Panter’s Pointers: Energy Drink Dangers

Energy drinks are commonplace in our society. There are new ones popping up on supermarket shelves and at cashier stands across the country. People use them regularly to keep up with the demands of everyday life and most of us equate them to being as safe as coffee. With so many varieties and ease of purchase, it’s easy to forget that energy drink dangers exist.

Aside from promises like “no calories,” “no sugar,” “no caffeine,” and “no crash,” we reach for energy drinks time and time again, because we know they work. Chances are that either you have consumed an energy drink or two at some point or know someone who has. While these beverages may be very popular, energy drink dangers are a very real problem. Over consumption can kill you. Literally.

We know that too much caffeine at any age, particularly in children and teens, can cause damaging physical effects. There have been reports of deaths of people who consumed too much of an energy drink and suffered cardiac arrest. Otherwise healthy people can suddenly find themselves in trouble when energy drinks raise heart rates and blood pressure. Energy drinks have also been found to cause drops in insulin levels.

Also dangerous is the trend of mixing energy drinks with alcohol. This mixture can lead to major health problems. In addition, due to the effects that each of the beverages produce, those who consume energy drinks with alcohol may actually feel sober, when in fact they are intoxicated.

Why the widespread appeal? Energy drinks are legal stimulants that are cleverly marketed. Whether large, small, celebrity endorsed, all natural, or flavored, these are some ways that energy drink companies get our attention. A multitude of ingredients packed with caffeine or other energy producing stimulants are carefully packaged to look as normal as a can of soda. Next time you pick up an energy drink, take a moment to read the ingredients. You may be surprised.

You can read more about the dangers of energy drinks in this NY Times article.

NY Times, “Scientists See Dangers in Energy Drinks,” by Jane E. Brody, 30 January 2011