Energy Drinks Can Cause Serious Health Problems and Even Death

January 16, 2012 by  
Filed under Health Blog, Healthy Lifestyle

Rise in caffeine toxicity blamed on energy drinks

According to Emma Sorensen (Medical Observer, 16.1.12): 

“AUSTRALIAN researchers are again calling for better labelling of caffeinated energy drinks after a study showed an alarming rise in cases of caffeine toxicity, which presents a risk of serious cardiac or neurological complications, and was responsible for one death in 2009. The retrospective observational study of NSW Poisons Information Centre data examined phone calls regarding energy drink exposures over the seven years to 2010.

Some 297 exposures to energy drinks were reported, increasing annually from 12 in 2004 to 65 in 2010. The median number of energy drinks consumed in one “recreational” session was five units, and the median age of exposure was 17 years, with 57% of consumers male. A third of users co-ingested other substances including alcohol and other caffeinated products or amphetamines.

Commonly reported symptoms included palpitations, agitation, tremor and gastrointestinal upset. More serious cardiac or neurological toxicity was reported in 21 subjects, including hallucinations, seizures, arrhythmias and cardiac ischaemia.

Over 128 subjects required hospitalisation related to the side effects of energy drinks.

Of concern were the 62 children with a mean age of 38 months (nine requiring hospitalisation) reported to have accidentally ingested energy drinks, with the most common symptom being hyperactivity.

While a typical can of energy drink may contain up to 300 mg of caffeine (just 50 mg can induce tachycardia and agitation), the caffeine dosage from all sources may be higher than the label indicates, and different brands of energy drinks contain varying levels of caffeine. Researchers caution that consumers are unlikely to be aware of variations in chemical composition and caffeine dosage in different drinks, leading to confusion over suggested maximum daily doses.

The researchers concluded that “reports of caffeine toxicity from energy drink consumption are increasing, particularly among adolescents, warranting review and regulation of the labelling and sale of these drinks”.

The negative health effects of energy drink consumption have been raised over many years, with critics blaming them for eroding dental health in teenagers, increasing blood pressure, and causing a recurrence of psychosis in schizophrenia patients, and calls have been made for a ban on selling energy drinks to children.

Estimates are that the energy drink industry spent nearly $15 million on marketing in Australia in 2009. The regulation of caffeinated energy drinks is currently under review by the Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council”.

MJA 2012; 196(1):46-49

Do you think that children should be able to drink Energy drinks? What are your thoughts?



Yours In Great Health,

Sar Rooney BHSc., ND., DC., DASc., GDSc. (Hons), MATMS, MNHAA, MHATO

Naturopathic Medicine Practitioner, Lecturer, Researcher


Earth Medicine TM


Email: [email protected]



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