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article imageOp-Ed: Energy drinks, health hazard for young adults

By Timothy Whitt     May 28, 2013 in Health
Reading - Energy drink sales are on the rise in the United States. Each day millions of Americans use energy drinks to give themselves a boost to get through the day. Experts warn that energy drinks can be hazardous to a person's health.
Energy drinks are fast becoming the soft drink of choice with, “U.S. sales for energy drinks and shots totaling more than $12.5 billion” in 2012. Each day millions of cans, bottles, and shots are consumed mostly by adolescence and young adults, but the market is rapidly expanding. Adults also use energy drinks to try and keep up with their younger counterparts.
Energy drinks are highly caffeinated beverages with other added ingredients such as taurine and gurana in order to give the drink an even bigger kick. Energy drinks are, "advertised as a means to enhance performance, boost the immune system, or create a "buzz," and are given names like, “Monster,” “Rockstar,” and “Cocaine,” to make them sound more exciting.
The big question about energy drinks, is should consumers worry about the side effects of what they are putting into their bodies? While it is true most energy drinks are nothing more than a little sugar water and caffeine and a, “proprietary blend of vitamins, amino acids, and herbs,” it is the caffeine which has the FDA looking into energy drinks. Some energy drinks have as much as 500mg of caffeine in them, which is about five times more than a cup of coffee.
Normally, “the FDA limits caffeine in carbonated colas to about 71mg per 12-oz can,” but has yet to put any restrictions on the amount of caffeine in energy drinks. Caffeine, while used in limited quantities, has no side effects, but when abused can have severe side affects such as dehydration, anxiety, tachycardia, jitters, mood swings, and in some people with preexisting heart conditions may even cause death.
According to, Shelby, a 21 year old female, “drinking too many Monsters causes my hands to shake and my chest to hurt.” She also has a history of heart problems and knows the dangers of energy drinks but still uses the drinks anyway.
While energy drinks are currently unregulated by the FDA and their use is a matter of personal choice, energy drink users need to take a closer look at how the drinks affect their bodies. Experts warn that energy drinks may be harmful to a person's health and a good diet and sleep are much better for a person than energy drinks.
According to Medical News Today, “more than twice as many people visited hospital emergency rooms because of energy drink consumption in 2011 compared to 2007,” and those numbers will grow.
An alarming trend in energy drink usage is mixing the drinks with alcohol. Many teenagers and adolescence like the rush the combination gives them, however the combination can be deadly. The caffeine in energy drinks masks the effects of alcohol on the body and may cause some people to over indulge in alcoholic beverages.
Another side effect of the combining alcohol and energy drinks may be how it takes the human body through a roller coaster ride physiologically. Keith Cambrel in a recent article calls it, “getting a high without getting sleepy,” because the person is still going when the body is ready to collapse. An even more dangerous problem and one which can become deadly is, “mixing these drinks with alcohol further increases the risk of heart rhythm problems.”
While there is no easy answer for getting people to understand the dangers of energy drink usage, more education on how the drinks affect the body is definitely needed and maybe more FDA regulations similar to those on soda. In the end however, until people learn for themselves how dangerous energy drinks can be when misused, sales and usage of the drinks will continue to rise.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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