Deaths Tied to Energy Drinks? FDA Asked to Require Warning on Product
The many energy drinks that have flooded the market in the last decade contain a wide variety of stimulants, from caffeine to guarana (derived from a Brazilian plant). Many also have taurine, a “conditional amino acid” that has been linked in studies to bipolar disorder and brain damage when taken with other substances. In the last 10 years, at least 30 people have died after drinking a commercially available “energy drink, and an additional 50 people sought treatment for heart attacks, convulsions and high blood pressure after using an energy drink.
In the wake of these events, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to conduct studies and to require product manufacturers to post warning on product labels until it can be determined whether there are potentially harmful side effects.
According to Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the CSPI, there is a great deal of uncertainty about the health impact of energy drinks. The FDA, however, indicated that it has been looking at the potential health risks associated with energy drinks for a number of years. According to an FDA official, the biggest challenge is that many users have other factors that make it difficult to determine the impact of the energy drink or the substances in it. A significant number of people who experienced negative health consequences were obese, had other health problems, or were taking other medications at the time.
The American Beverage Association has publicly asserted that energy drinks are not a health risk, as they “meet all the standards required by federal regulators.” The principal marketers of energy drinks—Monster Beverage Corporation, Rockstar Energy and 5 Hour Energy, have not commented on concerns about health risks.
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