Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University say some of the popular energy drinks contain potentially harmful levels of caffeine – as much caffeine as is in 14 cans of Coca-Cola. In a review article appearing in the September issue of the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, the researchers say the drinks should carry warning labels displaying their caffeine content and possible health risks, such as nervousness, anxiety, insomnia, rapid heartbeat and tremors.
Caffeinated energy drinks are marketed as supplements, not soft drinks, and are not required to list their caffeine content or comply with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s maximum caffeine content for soda and other beverages. In addition, they are actively marketed to teens and young adults, impressionable groups that may not be aware of the dangers. Dr. Roland Griffiths, a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and one of the study’s authors, said:
I believe people should be informed about what they are taking and what the risk is. First and foremost, we need to label the amount of caffeine and label it prominently – not in fine print. At the very least, we should know how much caffeine is in the product, and we should have some indication of what the drug does.
The top-sellers include such brands as Red Bull and Monster Energy.
Dr. Griffiths, who has been studying caffeine for more than two decades, said caffeine intoxication can, in rare cases, lead to death. His article is a review paper that compiles studies, reports and surveys on caffeine intake, chemical dependency and energy drinks from numerous sources. The article mentions cases of adverse reactions from caffeine in energy drinks reported to U.S. poison control centers. Dr. Griffiths stated:
I’m not concerned about someone whose caffeinated beverage of choice is Red Bull – they really are no different than a coffee drinker at that point. But it’s the sporadic use to people who are not tolerant and who are naive and vulnerable in other ways that make it problematic.
Dr. Griffiths notes that caffeine stimulant pills such as NoDoz, which contains between 100 and 200 milligrams of caffeine, include a warning on the label saying that too much caffeine may cause nervousness and irritability and that they should not be taken by children under 12.
Since the launch of Red Bull in Austria in 1987 and in the United States a decade later, the market for caffeinated energy beverages has expanded worldwide and accounts for a $5.4 billion industry. With names like Amp Energy, Rock Star, and No Fear, the products sell not only a beverage, but a high-energy lifestyle, with claims to expand strength, endurance and toughness.
Source: Baltimore Sun
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