It’s not unusual to read about studies that warn against energy drinks and their health risks. And it would now seem that energy drinks could pose even more dangers to one’s physical and mental health, with a wider range of potential consequences than what was once thought.
The findings do not come from a single study, but rather from a review of multiple existing papers that was published this week in the journal Frontiers in Public Health. The researchers analyzed the results of various studies on energy drinks and their health risks, and as Men’s Health noted, they came up with a list of risks that go beyond what many people might already be aware of.
Aside from the widely known dangers of weight gain, inconsistent sleeping patterns, and high blood pressure, the researchers found that energy drinks could lead to a higher risk of diabetes, tooth decay, and kidney damage, as well as mental health issues and even substance abuse.
According to study author Josiemer Mattei, an assistant professor of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the sweetening agents found in energy drinks are the most likely cause of the associated health risks. Most 500-milliliter cans of these beverages contain about 54 grams of sugar, which the researchers stressed is much higher than the American Heart Association’s recommended limit of 36 grams of sugar per day for men. Furthermore, Men’s Health added that energy drinks also contain high-fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners on top of the excessive sugar content.
News reports of energy drink consumption leading to serious medical issues, or even death, have been commonplace in recent years. Fox News, for instance, pointed out the case of a man who supposedly got a hole in his skull due to his energy drink consumption. Another individual, a South Carolina teenager, died earlier this year after he consumed a large Mountain Dew, a cafe latte, and an energy drink within a two-hour span of time.
Anyone who thought these energy drinks weren't doing massive harm to their body never paid attention during: Health, Chemistry or Biology.
These are soda's injected with chemicals, nothing more.
— FixIt_Fitz (@fixit_fitz) November 17, 2017
As for the aforementioned risk of substance abuse, a USA Today report from April cited a study from University of Maryland researchers which suggested that young adults who regularly consumed energy drinks were more likely to start using cocaine, drink excessively, or abuse prescription stimulants.
Sugar and sweeteners aren’t the only ingredients in energy drinks that could potentially lead to health risks. Men’s Health wrote that excess caffeine consumption has been blamed in part by previous studies for anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideations. In the light of that, study author Mattei believes that the high caffeine content of energy drinks might also drive high blood pressure and other cardiovascular issues, but added that more research needs to be done regarding the effects of caffeine and other ingredients such as gaurana, ginseng, and taurine.
Considering how energy drinks’ health risks could outweigh the short-term benefits, Mattei told Men’s Health that the best thing to do would be to completely avoid these beverages. She suggested that those in need of an energy boost can simply drink some water, as natural hydration can “keep [the] body running” without the involvement of excessive sugar or any other questionable ingredients.
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