A Deadly Boost of Energy

Monster Energy Drinks blamed for 5 deaths in the last 3 years. FDA struggles to find link.

deaths related to energy drinks

In a society where sleep is rarely top priority and daily stressors steal your last fleeting ounce of energy, it is no wonder so many people are eager to swallow energy in a can. Yet, the top consumers of energy drinks are not overworked adults, but instead are teenagers pining after a rush that can be slugged legally from a “very cool” 24-ounce can.

Energy drinks are classified as supplements, which means they are not under federal regulations when it comes to labeling or disclosing the exact content within. And, much like those pills promising a slimmer waistline or fewer hangovers, they can get a way with an ingredient label that merely reads “proprietary blend.” That could be anything – guarana, ginseng, taurine, caffeine, etc. – in any quantity.

The attorney for the city of San Francisco  is looking deep into the claims substantiated by Monster Energy Drinks, seeking to find false claims and marketing targeting teenagers and young adults for whom these beverages may not be suitable. The New York State attorney general is looking into several producers of energy drinks to determine what can be done to stop further injury and death from these legal, yet unregulated substances.

The FDA is struggling to find a direct link between the deaths and Monster Energy drinks. Although this drink on its own may not be exclusively to blame for the deaths of these individuals, there is a small connection. Many experts believe mixing these drinks with similar caffeinated beverages or even alcohol can cause damaging effects. The CDC reported last year that the number of emergency room cases linked to energy beverages has risen tenfold since 2005 and 44 percent of those cases were attributed to mixing energy drinks with other substances.

The FDA recognizes that 71 milligrams of caffeine per 12-ounce beverage is safe for the average person, however this only applies to food and drugs, not supplements. Experts recommend exercising caution when it comes to energy drinks and caffeinated beverages in general. If you have health issues or are sensitive to caffeine, energy drinks are not a good idea. One report published in the New York Times found that most energy beverages have 20 percent more caffeine in them than claimed on the label and that doesn’t include the other substances that can make your heart race.

The healthiest solution is to find natural ways to boost energy, such as exercising regularly or sipping green tea (in moderation.) And, parents be sure to discuss the dangers of energy drinks with your kids. Large quantities of caffeine may be harmful to young children and teens.

Learn more from the experts: Caffeine and Energy Drinks: How Much is too Much?

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