However, beyond the caffeine itself are other ingredients that can magnify caffeine, says Dr. Marcie Beth Schneider, an adolescent pediatrician based in Greenwich, Connecticut. She told the Dallas Morning News (9/3/13) that many energy drinks have additional ingredients such as taurine and guarana, which can magnify the effects of caffeine.
Monster Energy Drink Deaths and Hospitalizations have taken center stage since two lawsuits alleging Monster Energy Drink injury and death were recently launched. One of those lawsuits pertains to the death of Anais Fournier, a 14-year-old girl who died after consuming Monster energy drinks. Another lawsuit, launched earlier this year following the death of a 19-year-old man, has served to cast a pall over a sector that has been growing steadily in recent years.
In sum, energy drinks have picked up where coffee left off - beverages containing a mix of caffeine and other ingredients designed to provide a jolt of energy when needed. So effective are these liquid stimulants that scores of consumers have come to rely on them.
Dr. Bob Arnot, widely known as a TV commentator and once used extensively as a medical advisor to ABC News, says he’s been consuming energy drinks on a regular basis for some 10 years, according to The Press Enterprise (7/4/13). Monster has, in fact, retained Arnot as an advisor in the wake of lawsuits that have cost the company $3 million in legal fees in the first quarter of the year, according to a statement by Monster chairman and CEO Rodney Sacks in May.
Appearing on Power Lunch, a program on CNBC, Dr. Arnot said in June that he is not a paid spokesperson for Monster, but rather can speak independently, and has “a complete free hand in terms of looking through the data, reading through the scientific articles,” with regard to Monster caffeine levels and other data, Arnot told CNBC.
He also told CNBC that he does not endorse energy drinks. In spite of using them personally, he harbors no concern about them for adults and notes that the drinks are not recommended for children and are labeled as such.
But kids are drinking them anyway and, it appears, in record numbers.
Dr. Akram Khan, a cardiologist and medical director for Cardiac Center of Texas in McKinney and director of preventive medicine at Medical City Plano, noted in comments published in the Dallas Morning News that “the kids drink it like water, and it’s like a time bomb. It can be fatal if you have an underlying condition, and it can also damage a healthy heart,” he says.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require manufacturers of supplements to list the amount of ingredients in their products. Only products classed as a “food or beverage” are required to list levels of caffeine and other ingredients. Little wonder that so many manufacturers of energy drinks self-classify as a dietary supplement, to skirt around the requirement to include amounts - such as Monster caffeine levels - in their products. For the manufacturer, it also helps to shield proprietary information from competitors.
However, in so doing, consumers don’t really know what they’re getting.
For its part, Monster has recently made a decision to re-classify its products as falling under the FDA “food and beverage” banner, along with the requirement to list just how much caffeine is in a Monster energy drink.
In some cases, quite a lot. A comparison published in the Dallas Morning News reveals a 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola Classic contains 30 to 35 milligrams of caffeine. A cup of McDonald’s coffee, according to the Mayo Clinic, contains 100 milligrams of caffeine per sixteen ounces.
“Monster Worx Energy,” on the other hand, carries 200 milligrams of caffeine in just two ounces.
Cody Cifani is a 15-year-old from McKinney, Texas, who maintained a daily habit of energy drinks. Then one day, according to the Dallas Morning News, he consumed two espresso shots followed by three Monster Energy drinks before going into work. Instead of the expected energy rush, he crashed.
“It was a pounding feeling in my entire head. I was extremely fatigued, and I didn’t want to move,” he told the Dallas Morning News. “It felt like a really bad crash. I felt really bad the entire day and had stomach pains when I woke up.”
His sister Stacey had been on his case to cut back on his consumption of energy drinks, after her own habit led to the emergence of SVT, or supraventricular tachycardia, a rapid heart rhythm, which brought her heart rate up to 180 this year. The 25-year-old medical assistant required life-saving ablation surgery this past spring.
READ MORE MONSTER ENERGY DRINK INJURY LEGAL NEWS
The National Collegiate Athletic Association prohibits the drinks for student-athletes. In June, the American Medical Association recommended banning the marketing of energy drinks for those under 18.
The energy drink industry continues to maintain its products are safe and effective when consumed responsibly, and that products are properly labeled. Nonetheless, Monster drink contents and those of other manufacturers continue to be a concern for parents and health advocates.