Think there's no risk involved in knocking back a Red Bull or a V when you need to stay alert for a big project (or an all-night gaming session)? A new study published in the Medical Journal of Australia highlights a massive rise in calls to poison information lines as a result of caffeine toxicity from energy drinks.
According to the study, there were just 12 calls to the NSW Poisons Information Centre concerning the effects of energy drinks in 2004. In 2010, that number had risen to 65. While it's still not a large absolute figure, it is a major increase. The most commonly named brands were Red Bull, V, Pulse, Mother and RockStar. Over the same period, 128 people attended a hospital emergency department to deal with symptoms from energy drinks. Palpitations were the most common symptom, followed by tremors and shaking.
The paper argues that these drinks should be more closely regulated, especially given that they now comprise around one-fifth of all beverages sold in convenience stores:
Given the clear evidence of toxicity and the growing number of hospitalisations associated with consumption of energy drinks, particularly in a vulnerable adolescent population, health authorities should increase awareness of the problem, improve package labelling and regulate caffeine content.
Quite aside from the caffeine-related health risks, energy drinks have a very high sugar content, which has all sorts of medical impacts (alongside the obvious one of making you fat).
Ever felt the need for medical attention after too many energy drinks? Share your experiences in the comments.