A recent study published online in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology (3/26/15) suggested energy drinks could increase the risk of heart problems, making them dangerous for adolescents. The study noted that even youth who appear healthy and have no apparent underlying heart problems could be at risk of atrial or ventricular arrhythmias, atrial fibrillation or myocardial infarction.
Consumers who rely on the ingredient labels to show what is contained in the drinks may not be getting the most useful information. Although technically the labels show all ingredients, those labels can mask alternate sources of caffeine.
“The problem with ED [energy drink] consumption is that these beverages often contain high amounts of labeled and even masked caffeine, as well as other substances such as guarana, ginseng, and taurine in variable quantities, which may generate uncertain interactions,” researchers note.
“Guarana is a Brazilian plant containing ‘guaranine,’ which is nothing more than caffeine, in about twice the concentration of the caffeine found in coffee beans.”
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The study recommends avoiding consumption of too many energy drinks and not using the drinks before or during sports. Researchers found that in 2007, approximately half of the 5,448 caffeine overdoses involved youths under the age of 19. Of those, between five and 10 percent were in youths who were apparently healthy.
Lawsuits have been filed against energy drink manufacturers, alleging they failed to warn about the risks associated with the energy drinks.