Red Bull Side Effects: Adverse Health Reactions to Energy Drinks

Red Bull Side Effects: Adverse Health Reactions to Energy Drinks. Those of you who take in energy drinks such as Red Bull, Monster Energy, Full Throtle, and Rock Star should read the recent issue of the Pediatrics Journal [PDF File] which published a damning study on the bad health effects of energy drinks to young kids and adolescents.

Okay, okay, we know you don’t have the time to read a medical journal and its kinda technical and “academese” too so we decided to upload this Today video of a good doctor talking about the study.

Essentially, she states that energy drinks have too much caffeine in them and that these drinks are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration because they are being marketed as “dietary supplements”.

Not unexpectedly, the American Beverage Association is disputing the researchers’ findings.

So who do we believe: the energy drink manufacturers who want to make money from you or the researchers who want you to be more healthy?

Easy choice, eh?

Anyhoo, here’s the conclusion arrived at by the authors (Sara M. Seifert, BS; Judith L. Schaechter, MD; Eugene R. Hershorin, MD; and Steven E. Lipshultz, MD) of the Pediatrics journal article.

On the basis of this review, we conclude that:

  1. energy drinks have no therapeutic benefit, and both the known and unknown pharmacology of various ingredients, combined with reports of toxicity, suggest that these drinks may put some children at risk for serious adverse health effects;
  2. typically, energy drinks contain high levels of caffeine, taurine, and guarana, which have stimulant properties and cardiac and hematologic activity, but manufacturers claim that energy drinks are nutritional supplements, which shields them from the caffeine limits imposed on sodas and the safety testing and labeling required of pharmaceuticals;
  3. other ingredients vary, are understudied, and are not regulated;
  4. youth-aimed marketing and risk-taking adolescent developmental tendencies combine to increase overdose potential;
  5. high consumption is suggested by self-report surveys but is under-documented in children (deleterious associations with energy-drink consumption have been reported globally in case reports and popular media; and
  6. interactions between compounds, additive and dose-dependent effects, long-term consequences, and dangers associated with risky behavior in children remain to be determined.


UPDATE: In Febuary 2013, a different study led by Dr Kwabena Blankson, adolescent medicine specialist at the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth in Virginia, which was published on the February 2013 issue of Pediatrics in Review, confirmed that energy drinks like Monster “can cause insomnia, rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, anxiety and obesity”.

Dr. Blankson specifically warned teens to avoid energy drinks: “I don’t think there is any sensationalism going on here. These drinks can be dangerous for teens. They contain too much caffeine and other additives that we don’t know enough about. Healthy eating, exercise and adequate sleep are better ways to get energy.”

Just how much caffeine are in a small can of energy drink? According to a column by USA Today’s Dr. Kevin Pho, “just 2 ounces of a popular brand contains 207 mg of caffeine, which is almost as much as six cans of Coca-Cola”.

You won’t drink six cans of Coca-Cola in one sitting, do you?


For related articles, check out the bad health effects of Four Loko as well as the health effects of dark chocolate.

Red Bull Side Effects: Adverse Health Reactions to Energy Drinks. Posted 15 February 2011. Last updated on 3 February 2013.

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