A new study conducted by  Dr Anna Svatikova from the Mayo Clinic found that even a single energy drink can alter your health significantly, and consuming energy drinks regularly can be absolutely devastating.

Image via Simon le Nippon (Flickr).

It’s no secret that energy drinks aren’t good for you. Excessive or repeated consumption of energy drinks has been linked to cardiac problems, such as arrhythmias and heart attacks, and psychiatric conditions such as anxiety and phobias. In 2011 alone, in the U.S., energy drinks were linked to 20,000 emergency room visits. In 42% of those cases, the patient had mixed energy drinks with another stimulant. But most people just shrug it off, thinking that they don’t drink “excessively”. Well, that’s no good; even a single serving can alter your health significantly.

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Researchers recruited 25 healthy participants to consume one can of a 16 ounce (480 millilitre) Rockstar energy drink and a placebo drink in the course of 5 minutes in a random order on 2 separate days, that weren’t more than 14 days apart. The placebo drink was designed in a way that it had a similar texture, smell and taste than the energy drink, but without the caffeine and other stimulants (guarana, taurine, ginseng etc).

Patients were asked not to eat anything or drink any alcohol or caffeine 24 hours before the study. Researchers found that consumption of an energy drink caused a 6.2% increase in systolic blood pressure (from 108.4 mm Hg to 115.0 mm Hg) vs a 3.1% increase with the placebo drink (from 108.3 mm Hg to 111.6 mm Hg). Average blood pressure increased by 6.4% with energy drink (74.2 mm Hg to 78.9 mm Hg) and only 1% with a placebo (from 74.9 mm Hg to 75.4 mm Hg).

This comes as no surprise – in fact, in a way, it’s sad that studies like this have to be conducted, because it should almost be a no-brainer – even a single energy drink has a significant effect on your body, and the more you drink, the more risk you subject yourself to. The authors note in their study:

“These acute hemodynamic and adrenergic changes may predispose to increased cardiovascular risk. Further research in larger studies is needed to assess whether the observed acute changes are likely to increase cardiovascular risk.”

Now, arguably, they only used 25 subjects, and only used one brand – but the vast majority of brands have a similar chemical composition and would almost certainly generate similar results. As for the number of subjects, it seems very likely that the same would happen for a larger group, but perhaps it would be better if the same study is replicated on larger groups.