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Young Monster Drink Nation Not Conditioned to Super-Caffeine: Professor

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Houston, TXThe immense popularity of energy drinks is at long last being met with increased scrutiny, say health advocates. And none too soon, given reports of Monster Energy Drink Deaths and Hospitalizations. To be fair, Monster is just one manufacturer amongst a host of players capitalizing on the energy drink phenomenon. Still, Monster is a market leader and has been tied to at least one death involving 14-year-old Anais Fournier.

Monster Beverage Corporation has maintained her death was related to underlying heart problems. However, according to The Houston Chronicle (8/25/13), the teen died following consumption of two, 24-ounce Monster energy drinks within 24 hours of one another. The autopsy reportedly listed caffeine toxicity as the cause of Anais’ death.

High levels of caffeine, as it relates to Monster drink contents, lay at the foundation of concern over energy drinks and consumers who tend to be more often than not young adults, adolescents and even children.

Energy drinks typically contain 10 to 15 milligrams of caffeine per ounce, or between 160 and 240 milligrams in a 16-ounce can (bump that up to a 24-ounce can and you have even more caffeine involved). Manufacturers stress that such a level of caffeine is less than that found in a typical cup of coffee.

However the issue at hand that can and allegedly has led to Monster Energy Drink injury together with problems involving other manufacturers of energy drinks, is the fact that coffee, a hot beverage, is consumed at a much slower rate than an energy drink.

And Monster caffeine levels at 160 to 240 milligrams per 16-ounce can, represent much more caffeine than a regular consumer of soft drinks is used to: about five times more, based on 16 ounces. Most teens, say health advocates, have consumed insufficient amounts of coffee to become properly adjusted to it. What’s more, say the experts, there are other ingredients that comprise the totality of Monster drink contents capable of expanding and accentuating the effects of caffeine.

Suddenly, with a can full of Monster drink contents in hand, they are getting a coffee-like jolt of caffeine turbo fired by other ingredients without having the tolerance for such a high level of caffeine and consuming the product much, much faster - sometimes instantaneously, through a series of sustained gulps.

Dr. John Higgins, a cardiologist from Houston who participated in a meeting on the issue convened by the Institute of Medicine, noted in the report that studies suggest energy drinks are harmful to consumers younger than 18. “It’s not just the caffeine in the drinks,” says Higgins, also a professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (U of T).

“It appears that the interaction of caffeine, sugars and vitamins creates a whole different beast, a whole new pharmaco-dynamic.”

Higgins has instituted a study to evaluate the effects of energy drinks - including Monster drink contents - on the heart functions of 50 healthy U of T students. His own findings based on self-analysis, which he published in the July edition of the International Journal of Cardiology, noted that his cardiac blood vessels became sluggish and didn’t function as well following consumption of a 24-ounce can of Monster.

That loss of function, where Higgins’ blood vessels didn’t open as well as they did prior to consuming the energy drink, can equate to Monster Energy Drink Injury. In a person younger than 18, such change in function can lead to devastating consequences, as the family of 14-year-old Anais Fournier can attest. They suspect the Monster energy drinks consumed by their daughter as the reason for her death.

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