Energy drinks are big sellers, but are they harmful?
RAF MILDENHALL, England – While a recent study indicates energy drinks could increase the chances of serious heart conditions in healthy adults, cans of Monster, Red Bull, Rockstar, and other leading brands continue to fly off the shelves at base exchanges and commissaries.
The study, published in January’s American Journal of Medicine, found that consuming just one of these energy drinks could cause a rise in blood pressure, decreased blood vessel function and an increased stickiness of the blood.
“We wanted to find out what impact these drinks may have on the cardiovascular health of young adults and whether their risk of a future heart attack is altered,” Dr. Scott Willoughby said in a release discussing the study.
Willoughby, the senior author of the report, and others from the Royal Adelaide Hospital and University of Adelaide in Australia noted that sticky blood and blood vessel dysfunction can lead to diseases in the cardiovascular system.
But not everyone is worried about the health risks.
“[Energy drinks] keep me going,” said Staff Sgt. Chris Klaus, 100th Air Refueling Wing, who says he drinks an average of two or three Red Bulls per day. “I’m not really worried.”
Apparently, Klaus is not the only one who feels that way.
In 2009, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service and the Defense Commissary Agency registered some $108 million in sales, as consumers guzzled down more than 40 million energy drinks worldwide. That’s nearly 110,000 cans sold each day.
Energy drinks can contain up to five times more caffeine per ounce than a 12-ounce can of Coke.
Capt. Karen Rowey, the Chief of Nutrition Care Branch for Heidelberg Medical Department of Activity, said people should limit their caffeine intake to 200-300 milligrams a day. A 16-ounce can of Monster has 160 milligrams of caffeine, according to the Web site energyfiend.com. An eight-ounce cup of drip coffee has 145 milligrams, the Web site said.
But Andreas Kadi, chief science officer for Red Bull, was quoted by the Web site beveragedaily.com as saying the Australian study “does not show an effect which would go beyond that of drinking a cup of coffee.
“Therefore the reported results were to be expected and lie within normal physiological ranges,” Kadi said.
But, contrary to Kadi’s remarks, the study stated “there is no evidence to date to support the suggestion that chronic coffee consumption has any impact on cardiovascular events.”
Regardless of the findings, AAFES and DeCA aren’t planning to pull the drinks from the stores anytime soon.
Officials for both organizations said the decision to remove energy drinks from the stores would have to come from a governing body, such as the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the United States Department of Agriculture.