Energy drinks are a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States.
Whether it's a pick-me-up to get through the end of the work day, to get a burst of energy during a workout, or cramming for finals during an all-night study session, Americans' consumption of energy drinks continues to grow.
While the dangers of excessive caffeine intake are well-documented, there hasn't been a lot of research into carnitine, glucuronlactone, guarana, and other ingredients that energy drinks claim boost energy. This means that the full risk of consuming large amounts of these drinks isn't well understood.
However, a new study from researchers at Mayo Clinic suggests there are hidden dangers to drinking lots of energy drinks.
The study, which was presented March 14 at the 64th session of the American College of Cardiology, found that those who drank energy drinks had higher blood pressure 30 minutes later than those who drank a placebo. The amount of the increase was doubled in those who don't regularly consume caffeine compared to those who do.
"We know that energy drink consumption is widespread and rising among young people. Concerns about the health safety of energy drinks have been raised. We and others have previously shown that energy drinks increase blood pressure," the study's lead author Anna Svatikova from the Mayo Clinic said in a press release. "Now we are seeing that for those not used to caffeine, the concern may be even greater. Consumers should use caution when using energy drinks because they may increase the risk of cardiovascular problems, even among young people."
While it doesn't seem surprising that blood pressure would rise with increased energy, this might not be harmless.
When blood pressure is high for prolonged periods of time, it puts undue strain on the heart and increases the risk of developing coronary artery disease or experiencing a stroke, aneurysm, or heart attack. Regularly consuming energy drinks keep the blood pressure elevated, and increases the risk.
It is important for research in this field to continue.
This particular study used 25 adults, aged 19-40. Future studies should investigate energy drink habits of teenagers in order to understand any possible negative effects that might occur in a body that is still developing. Additionally, expanding the size of the study cohort might identify certain traits that cause people to be affected differently by energy drinks, aside from the level of caffeine use identified in this current study.