Ok, articles like this one by Dr. Mercola entitled "Red Bull Will Give You a Stroke" drive me absolutely nuts! I spent over an hour trying to find the source of the article and the only thing I can find is the researcher was quoted in Reuters, but no study (in fairness to the researcher perhaps it is not published yet).
Currently, data on Energy Drinks is sparse. Most will agree that you should not go out and slam back 3 of them in a row and believe that you are doing yourself a good thing; but how "bad" they are is also unknown.
After hours of searching, one of the only studies I could find that directly looked at safety (below) stated, "Four documented case reports of caffeine-associated deaths were found, as well as four separate cases of seizures associated with the consumption of energy drinks. "
Considering how often and the amount of this drinks consumed, this seems very low. Here is the study:
Safety issues associated with commercially availab...[J Am Pharm Assoc (2003). 2008 May-Jun] : ": J Am Pharm Assoc (2003). 2008 May-Jun;48(3):e55-63;
Safety issues associated with commercially available energy drinks.
Clauson KA, Shields KM, McQueen CE, Persad N.
College of Pharmacy-West Palm Beach, Nova Southeastern University, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida 33410, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
OBJECTIVE: To describe benefits and adverse effects associated with the consumption of energy drinks.
DATA SOURCES: Searches were conducted using Medline, IPA (International Pharmaceutical Abstracts), EMBASE, and MANTIS; databases such as Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, Natural Standard, ALTMEDEX, and AltHealthWatch; and Google (range 1980 to September 2007). Search terms included energy drink, Red Bull, caffeine, glucose, ginseng, guarana, taurine, and bitter orange.
DATA SYNTHESIS: Most energy drinks contain natural products such as guarana, ginseng, and taurine. As much as 80 to 300 mg of caffeine and 35 grams of processed sugar per 8-ounce serving are commonly present in energy drinks such as Cocaine, Pimp Juice, Red Bull, and Spike Shooter. No reports were identified of negative effects associated with taurine, ginseng, and guarana used in the amounts found in most energy drinks. Commonly reported adverse effects seen with caffeine in the quantities present in most energy drinks are insomnia, nervousness, headache, and tachycardia. Four documented case reports of caffeine-associated deaths were found, as well as four separate cases of seizures associated with the consumption of energy drinks.
CONCLUSION: The amounts of guarana, taurine, and ginseng found in popular energy drinks are far below the amounts expected to deliver either therapeutic benefits or adverse events. However, caffeine and sugar are present in amounts known to cause a variety of adverse health effects.
Here is one of the studies they refer to on Red Bull
Reversible postural tachycardia syndrome due to in...[Clin Auton Res. 2008] : "Clin Auton Res. 2008 Aug;18(4):221-3. Epub 2008 Aug 5.Click here to read Links
Reversible postural tachycardia syndrome due to inadvertent overuse of Red Bull((R)).
Terlizzi R, Rocchi C, Serra M, Solieri L, Cortelli P.
Dept. of Neurological Sciences, University of Bologna, Via Ugo Foscolo 7, 40123, Bologna, Italy, email@example.com.
Postural tachycardia syndrome associated with a vasovagal reaction was recorded in a young volleyball player after an excess intake of Red Bull((R)) as a refreshing energy drink. Considering the widespread use of Red Bull((R)) among young people who are often unaware of the drink's drug content, this case report suggest Red Bull((R)) be considered a possible cause of orthostatic intolerance."
My thoughts again
The effect of caffeine (the main ingredient in the drinks) in relation to blood pressure has more data, but notice the amount and that it was usually studied in those at an increased risk high blood pressure (see the studies pasted below). This does not guarantee that those with normal blood pressure will respond in the same way!
In summary, we can say more research is needed and I would agree with that; although energy drinks with the current available data do not seem as deadly as portrated in the media. For a good read, check out Dave Barr's article on a similar topic HERE.
Additive pressor effects of caffeine and stress in...[Am J Hypertens. 2000]
- Am J Hypertens. 2000 May;13(5 Pt 1):475-81.
Additive pressor effects of caffeine and stress in male medical students at risk for hypertension.
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, USA.
The effects of caffeine on blood pressure (BP) and cortisol secretion were examined during elevated work stress in medical students at high versus low risk for hypertension. Among 31 male medical students who were regular consumers of caffeine, 20 were considered at low risk for hypertension (negative parental history and all screening BP <> or = 140 mm Hg. This combined effect of stress and caffeine on BP suggests that it may be beneficial for individuals at high risk for hypertension to refrain from the use of caffeinated beverages, particularly at times when work demands and attendant stressors are high. For the same reasons, recent intake of caffeine should be controlled in patients undergoing BP measurement for the diagnosis of hypertension.
- Caffeine and behavioral stress effects on blood pressure.... Health Psychol. 1996 Jan;15(1):11-17.Click here to read Links
Caffeine and behavioral stress effects on blood pressure in borderline hypertensive Caucasian men.
Lovallo WR, al'Absi M, Pincomb GA, Everson SA, Sung BH, Passey RB, Wilson MF.
Veterans Affairs Medical Center and University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City 73104, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
Caffeine in dietary amounts raises blood pressure (BP), and its use increases during work stress; however, caffeine combined with behavioral stress has not been tested in borderline hypertensive (BH) men. Accordingly, this study tested a psychomotor stressor plus caffeine (3.3 mg/kg, equivalent to 2-3 cups of coffee) using a double-blind, crossover design in 24 BH men (140/90 mmHg < or = BP < or = 160/95 mmHg) and 24 controls (BP < or = 135/85 mmHg). BH men had modestly larger BP increases to the task and showed a greater combined effect of caffeine plus the task (+15/+11 mmHg) than controls (+10/+6 mmHg). BH men maintained response to the stressor in the face of an exaggerated BP response to caffeine, suggesting that use of caffeine during.....
Adrenocortical effects of caffeine at rest and during mental stress in borderline hypertensive men.
al'Absi M, Lovallo WR, Pincomb GA, Sung BH, Wilson MF.
Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Oklahoma Sciences Center, Oklahoma City 73104, USA.
We examined the effect or dietary doses of caffeine (3.3 mg/kg, equivalent to 2 to 3 cups of coffee) on adrenocortical responses to behavioral stress in borderline hypertensive (BH) men using a randomized, double-blind, caffeine-placebo crossover design. Cortisol levels were assessed in BH men and matched normotensive (NT) controls at rest and in response to 35 min of continuous work on a psychomotor task alternating with mental arithmetic. Caffeine at rest elevated cortisol among BHs hut not among NTs. Both groups showed significant cortisol responses to caffeine combined with the tasks. These findings may have implications for the dietary use of caffeine in persons at risk for hypertension when faced with stressful situations."
Effects of caffeine on vascular resistance, cardiac ...[Am J Cardiol. 1985] "Am J Cardiol. 1985 Jul 1;56(1):119-22.Click here to read Links
Effects of caffeine on vascular resistance, cardiac output and myocardial contractility in young men.
Pincomb GA, Lovallo WR, Passey RB, Whitsett TL, Silverstein SM, Wilson MF.
The mechanisms by which caffeine typically elevates blood pressure (BP) in humans have not been previously examined using a placebo-controlled design. Accordingly, oral caffeine (3.3 mg/kg body weight, equivalent to 2 to 3 cups of coffee) was given on 2 days and a placebo was given on 1 day to 15 healthy young men using a double-blind, crossover procedure. All 3 test sessions were held during a week of caffeine abstinence. Multiple measurements were made on subjects at rest (baseline values) and over a 45-minute interval after ingestion of caffeine for BP, heart rate, systolic time intervals and thoracic impedance measures of ventricular function. Baseline measurements were highly reliable for each subject across all sessions and yielded means for placebo vs caffeine days that were not different. Caffeine increased systolic and diastolic BP (p less than 0.01) and decreased heart rate (p less than 0.05). The pressor effect was....."