Top 15+ Energy Drink Dangers
The dangers associated with energy drinks are getting a lot of bad press because of the sheer volume of energy stimulating products in the marketplace and the ease of access to these by minors.
While most energy drinks don’t have as much caffeine as a Starbucks’ coffee, they are heavily sweetened, have a host of other ingredients, and are easy to drink which appeals more to the younger demographic.
Therefore, we are seeing increased incidents of those 18 and younger having dangerous side effects from consuming too many energy drinks at one time. We are also seeing health ramifications from consuming too many energy drinks daily over an extended period of time.
15 Possible Dangers of Consuming Energy Drinks
- Cardiac Arrest: While our Caffeine Calculator can show people how many energy drinks at one time would be lethal, this formula doesn’t apply to everyone. Those with underlying heart conditions have gone into cardiac arrest after just a few energy drinks. Before drinking energy drinks or caffeine, be sure to know your heart’s health.-A new study showed that energy drinks cause more forceful heart contractions, which could be harmful to some with certain heart conditions.- One study showed that between 2009 and 2011 there were 4854 calls to poison control centers regarding energy drinks. 51% of these calls were involving children. src– Another study shows the link between energy drinks and cardiac events among teens. This study recommends that teens consume no more than one 250 ml energy drink per day and not before or during sports or exercise. Study link. A 2016 study showed that 18-to 40-year-olds who drank energy drinks had a significant increase in their QTc interval, which is a marker of abnormal heart rhythm risk. Abstract. Research in 2018 showed that just 90 minutes after consuming a 24-oz energy drink, the inner diameter of arteries was halved. It’s thought that the high level of sugar and caffeine were to blame (more).A 2019 study found that 32 fluid ounces (about a liter) of an energy drink consumed within 60 minutes changed heart rhythm and increased blood pressure significantly in study participants. This was independent of the caffeine in the beverage. Source
A 2019 studyshowed that even in healthy young adults, Red Bull significantly increased atrial electromechanical conduction times among study participants. The quantity of Red Bull consumed was just 330 ml.
A 2021 study found that energy drink ingredients cause heart cells to beat faster in vitro. 17 popular energy drinks were tested and even though this study looked at heart cells in a petri dish, the researchers believe it also translates to heart cells of energy drink consumers.
A 2021 case report published in the British Medical Journal highlighted a case where a 21-year-old man suffered from heart failure. The only identified factor that likely caused this was the patient’s drinking of four, 500 ml energy drinks a day for four years. He had no other medical conditions.
- Headaches and Migraines: Too many energy drinks can lead to severe headaches from the caffeine withdrawal symptoms. Changing the amount of caffeine you ingest daily can cause more frequent headaches.
- Increased Anxiety: Those with 2 different genetic variations in their adenosine receptors are prone to feeling increased anxiety when consuming caffeinated beverages such as energy drinks. Larger doses of caffeine can even spur on full-blown panic attacks. The research.
- Insomnia: Energy drinks do a good job of keeping people awake, but when abused, they can cause some people to miss sleep altogether. This lack of sleep causes impaired functioning and can be dangerous to drive or perform other concentration heavy tasks.
- Type 2 Diabetes: Because many energy drinks are also very high in sugar, they can eventually wear out the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas, which leads to type 2 diabetes.
- Drug Interaction: Some of the ingredients in energy drinks can interact with prescription medications especially medications taken for depression.
- Addiction: People can become addicted to caffeine and energy drinks. This can lead to a lack of functioning when unable to have the energy drink or financial stress from having to buy several energy drinks daily.
- Risky behavior: There was a study published in The Journal of American College Health which showed that teens are more likely to take dangerous risks when high on caffeine. This could result in injury or legal trouble.
- Jitters and Nervousness: Too much caffeine from energy drinks causes some people to shake and be anxious. This can interfere with performing needed tasks or cause emotional issues. This study shows how caffeine can elicit anxiety.
- Vomiting: Too many energy drinks can lead to vomiting. This causes dehydration and acid erosion of teeth and esophagus if frequent.
- Allergic Reactions: Because of the many ingredients in energy drinks reactions could occur, from minor itching to airway constriction.
- High Blood Pressure: Caffeinated products like energy drinks can elevate a person’s blood pressure. For those with normal blood pressure, this isn’t concerning, but those with already elevated blood pressure could be placing themselves at risk of stroke and other health problems related to hypertension if they consume too many energy drinks in a short period of time. The research. A more recent study conducted by The Mayo Clinic found that Rockstar Energy Drink (240 mg version) significantly raised the blood pressure of study participants compared to the placebo drink. Overall, there was a 6.4% increase in average blood pressure. More about the study here. A newer study published by the American Heart Association showed that energy drinks have a greater negative effect on blood pressure than drinks that contain caffeine alone as the active ingredient. They believe the combination of ingredients in energy drinks are why these beverages pose a greater risk of heart-related problems than drinks like coffee or tea.
- Niacin Overdose: Niacin (Vitamin B3) is placed in most energy drinks at levels that cause no harm and can even be therapeutic. However, if a person is taking additional supplements containing Niacin, overdosing on the vitamin is possible when consuming energy drinks in addition to those supplements. Symptoms include; Skin flushing, dizziness, rapid heart rate, vomiting, itching, gout, and diarrhea. Source. The British Journal of Medicine recently published a case study of a man who experienced nonviral hepatitis from B3 toxicity believed to have been from consuming too many energy drinks during a period of three weeks.
- Stress Hormone Release: A study conducted by The Mayo Clinic found that a 240 mg version of Rockstar Energy Drink caused an increase in stress hormone release. The average norepinephrine level of the participants increased by 74% while the placebo only caused a 31% increase. The study
- Mental Health Problems, Aggression, and Fatigue. A recent study conducted by the US Military found that soldiers who drink 2+ energy drinks a day are more likely to exhibit mental health issues, aggression, and fatigue.
Despite these serious dangers, quitting caffeine is often easier said than done.
Due to the addictive nature of caffeine exacerbated by anxiety and lack of sleep, actually quitting caffeine can be a nightmare.
World Health Organization’s Warning
The World Health Organization (WHO) just released a warning letter concerning the dangers energy drinks pose to young people, especially since they found 68% of adolescents consume them.
To reduce energy drink dangers, the recommend the following to government agencies:
- Establish an upper caffeine limit on all products.
- Enforce labeling requirements and sales restrictions to minors.
- Enforce regulation of the industry to responsibly market their products.
- Train health care workers to recognize and treat overdose from energy drinks.
- Screen patients with a history of substance abuse for heavy consumption of energy drinks.
- Educate the public about the dangers of mixing energy drinks with alcohol.
- Continue researching the negative side effects energy drinks have on young people.
Moderation is Key
Too much of anything can potentially be dangerous, so moderation is recommended when consuming energy drinks. Caffeine (trimethylxanthine) and other ingredients in these beverages are drugs and should be respected and used in accordance with established recommended daily allowances.
To reduce the above potential energy drink dangers education is key. Consumers need to be aware of how much caffeine is in a drink or product and parents need to know exactly what their children are drinking and talk to them about what is safe.
- Menci, D., Righini, F. M., Cameli, M., Lisi, M., Benincasa, S., Focardi, M., & Mondillo, S. (2013). Acute effects of an energy drink on myocardial function assessed by conventional echo-Doppler analysis and by speckle tracking echocardiography on young healthy subjects. Journal of amino acids, 2013.
- Seifert, S. M., Seifert, S. A., Schaechter, J. L., Bronstein, A. C., Benson, B. E., Hershorin, E. R., ... & Lipshultz, S. E. (2013). An analysis of energy-drink toxicity in the National Poison Data System. Clinical toxicology, 51(7), 566-574.
- Trapp, G. S., Allen, K., O'Sullivan, T. A., Robinson, M., Jacoby, P., & Oddy, W. H. (2014). Energy drink consumption is associated with anxiety in Australian young adult males. Depression and anxiety, 31(5), 420-428. study
- US National Library of Medicine
- Curr Opin Pediatr. 2012 Apr; 24(2):243-51 (link).
- Sanchis-Gomar, F., Pareja-Galeano, H., Cervellin, G., Lippi, G., & Earnest, C. P. (2015). Energy Drink Overconsumption in Adolescents: Implications for Arrhythmias and Other Cardiovascular Events. Canadian Journal of Cardiology.
- Alsene, K., Deckert, J., Sand, P., & de Wit, H. (2003). Association between A2a receptor gene polymorphisms and caffeine-induced anxiety. Neuropsychopharmacology, 28(9), 1694-1702.
- Usman, A., & Jawaid, A. (2012). Hypertension in a young boy: an energy drink effect. BMC research notes, 5(1), 591.
- Shah, S. A., Dargush, A. E., Potts, V., Lee, M., Millard-Hasting, B. M., Williams, B., & Lacey, C. S. (2016). Effects of Single and Multiple Energy Shots on Blood Pressure and Electrocardiographic Parameters. The American journal of cardiology, 117(3), 465-468.