FDA Incident Reports Link Deaths to High Energy Drinks
Are quick energy boost drinks potentially harmful to health or even lethal? Anybody who uses those small 5-hour energy shots, ‘Monster’ or ‘Rockstar’ should be aware of the latest reports from the Food and Drug Administration. These products are freely available to all, at every convenience store and pharmacy in America, but the FDA reports a correlation between use of these named products and a number of deaths and hospitalizations.
The 5-hour energy shots dominate the market for legally available ‘ups’, with over ninety percent of total sales. The big question is just how harmful are ‘booster’ drinks and energy shots, if at all? The first death associated with 5-hour energy shots happened in December ‘09, and now there are allegedly 13 consumers who have died after having consumed 5-hour energy drinks just before their end. Closer inspection of the reports finds that 2 of the incidents have been duplicated making the new total of deaths just eleven, but very disturbing all the same.
Reports of hospitalizations and other non-lethal but harmful effects, date back seven years. Other side effects range from vertigo, anxiety, and nausea at the mild end to seizures, brain haemorrhages, and heart attacks at the acute end. The Monster brand drink is associated with five fatalities and around 35 adverse side effect reactions. The Rockstar brand is not linked with any deaths, but 13 incidents of harmful effects. So just what is in these beverages?
They are all plausibly marketed with extravagant colored packaging and at the heart of their energy boosting claims lie between 160 to 175 milligrams of caffeine. They come in a range of sizes as small as 5 ounces and as big as 16. It means the caffeine content is between 3 and five times greater than a normal 12-ounce soda drink. The full-strength 5-hour energy drinks are not labeled with the caffeine content but consumer test reports put it at 215 mgs in every 2-ounce bottle.
To put this in perspective, remember that a MacDonald’s 16 ounce serving contains around 145 mgs of caffeine. About equal to the Rockstar and Monster brands. In Starbucks the grande serving of their best-selling variety, non-espresso, will give you 330 mgs on average, but can get as high as 564. This may seem ‘extreme’, which is how ‘energyfiend.com’ describe it, but it is still only the equivalent of two smaller servings of 5-hour Energy. With the lack of detail labeling one wonders how many consumers of these drinks actually know what they are taking in.
In addition to the caffeine, there are also an assortment of added vitamins plus amino acids. Several of the vitamins exceed the FDA daily recommended dosages. Among the amino acids is phenylalanine. There is a syndrome known as phenylketonuria where a few people (1 in 15, 000) cannot tolerate this amino acid. It is the reason diet sodas made with the artificial sweetener; aspartame has a warning on the tin.
There is insufficient information in any of the FDA incident reports to say definitively if the energy drinks were the cause of the deaths.