What are the health effects of energy drinks?

Concerns about the effects of energy drinks are continuing to grow, as new research shows these drinks can cause blood pressure to rise, as well as bringing about heart palpitations and arrhythmias, anxiety, and insomnia.

Researchers in Poland conducted a small study with 18 healthy young adults ages 20-35. The young adults were asked to consume one of two energy drinks: one contained 120 mg of caffeine and the other contained 360 mg of caffeine. (A regular 8-ounce cup of brewed coffee has between 100-200 mg of caffeine.) A third group drank a placebo, which contained no caffeine or other stimulants. Researchers then took measurements of blood pressure and heart rate at 15, 30 and 90 minutes after consumption.

They found that the less caffeinated drink did not significantly affect either blood pressure or heart rate, compared with the placebo group. The more highly caffeinated drink, on the other hand, had a significant effect on both. Among those who consumed the 360 mg caffeine energy drink:
  • Blood pressure went up by an average of 9 points, for both systolic and diastolic pressure.
  • Heart rate went up by an average of 5 beats per minute.
  • Members of this group also developed irregular heartbeats, racing heartbeats, anxiety and insomnia.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, consuming too much caffeine (such as the high levels found in energy drinks) can cause:
  • An increased heart rate
  • Irregular heart rate and palpitations
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia
  • Diuresis (increased production of urine)
  • Increased level of sugar in the blood (if the caffeinated product, such as an energy drink, is sweetened with sugar)

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.