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Home Science Health Too much caffeine? Say 'œNer' to energy drinks?
According to a new Johns Hopkins study, researchers are recommending warning labels on energy drinks, such as the first energy drink Red Bull introduced in the United States, because the super-caffeinated drinks could cause overdose symptoms such as heart palpitations and insomnia.


American behavioral biologist Roland Griffiths, professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (Baltimore, Maryland) is the lead author of a new report on energy drinks.

Dr. Griffiths states, "Many of these drinks do not label the caffeine content." Within the WebMD article “Energy Drinks: Hazardous to Your Health,” it is being reported that “some energy drinks contain as much caffeine as found in 14 cans of soda.”

The drug caffeine stimulates the central nervous system. It is found naturally in coffee, tea, and chocolate. Caffeine is placed artifically into colas, other soft drinks, energy drinks, and other products as an additional ingredient.

Overdosing of caffeine is called caffeine intoxication. It is a recognized clinical syndrome, which includes such symptoms as anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, nervousness, tremors, rapid heartbeat, and other similar actions. Caffeine intoxication can cause death, but only in rare instances.

The Mayo Clinic, located in Rochester, Minnesota, U.S.A., writes about the syndrome in its online article “Caffeine: How much is too much?.”

Page two continues.




An article in The Los Angeles Times entitled “Red alert on energy drinks,” which was written by Dr. Rahul K. Parikh, discusses the problems with energy drinks and young people.

Griffiths' work is not without controversy.

The October 4, 2004 article “Behind The Latest Caffeine Scare” published on the website The Center for Consumer Freedom states, “… that hasn't stopped anti-caffeine crusader Roland Griffiths from boasting, in more than one hundred newspapers, that his latest study proves caffeine is the most abused stimulant around.”

Within the WebMD article, Maureen Storey, a spokesperson for the American Beverage Association, is said to have pointed out that “most ‘mainstream’ energy drinks contain the same amount of caffeine, or even less, than you’d get in a cup of brewed coffee.”

And she makes a strong point when she says within the article, “If labels listing caffeine content are required on energy drinks, they should also be required on coffeehouse coffee.”

The article also states that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the amount of caffeine in cola-type soft drinks.

That amount is set at a maximum of 71 milligrams per twelve fluid ounces. However, the FDA does not regulate such limits on energy drinks.

A listing of many energy drinks and several soft drinks are listed, with respect to caffeine, on the WebMD article.

Page three includes information about energy drinks, regulations, and warnings, as found in the abstract to Griffiths' paper.




The article by Dr. Griffiths appears in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

It first appeared online on September 21, 2008 under the title “Caffeinated energy drinks—A growing problem."

Its authors are Chad J. Reissig, Eric C. Strain, and Roland R. Griffiths, all from the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences or the Department of Neuroscience, at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland.

The abstract to their paper states, “Since the introduction of Red Bull in Austria in 1987 and in the United States in 1997, the energy drink market has grown exponentially. Hundreds of different brands are now marketed, with caffeine content ranging from a modest 50 mg to an alarming 505 mg per can or bottle.”

“Regulation of energy drinks, including content labeling and health warnings differs across countries, with some of the most lax regulatory requirements in the U.S. The absence of regulatory oversight has resulted in aggressive marketing of energy drinks, targeted primarily toward young males, for psychoactive, performance-enhancing and stimulant drug effects.”

And, continuing, “There are increasing reports of caffeine intoxication from energy drinks, and it seems likely that problems with caffeine dependence and withdrawal will also increase. In children and adolescents who are not habitual caffeine users, vulnerability to caffeine intoxication may be markedly increased due to an absence of pharmacological tolerance. Genetic factors may also contribute to an individual's vulnerability to caffeine-related disorders including caffeine intoxication, dependence, and withdrawal.”

“The combined use of caffeine and alcohol is increasing sharply, and studies suggest that such combined use may increase the rate of alcohol-related injury. Several studies suggest that energy drinks may serve as a gateway to other forms of drug dependence. Regulatory implications concerning labeling and advertising, and the clinical implications for children and adolescents are discussed.”

For further information, please read the eMedicine article “Caffeine-Related Psychiatric Disorders.”

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William Atkins

William Atkins completed educational degrees in science (bachelor’s in physics and mathematics) from Illinois State University (Normal, United States) and business (master’s in entrepreneurship and bachelor’s in industrial relations) from Western Illinois University

 

 

 

 

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