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Consuming Energy Drinks Can Increase Stress Hormone Levels, Cardiovascular Risks

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Some individuals consume energy drinks to keep up with their demanding and fast-paced lifestyles. Findings of a new study, however, have revealed that consuming just one energy drink can cause potentially dangerous increase in stress hormone levels and blood pressure.

In a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Nov. 8, cardiologist Anna Svatikova, from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and colleagues asked 25 young adults between 26 and 31 years old to drink either a 16-ounce can of Rockstar energy drink or a placebo drink.

The researchers measured the participants' blood pressure and levels of norepinephrine in the blood before and 30 minutes after they consumed the energy drink.

Norepinephrine is a hormone that the body releases during extreme stress and is known to increase the heart's ability to contract. It can also spike up blood pressure levels, as well as boost the arousal and alertness of the brain.

The researchers found that the norepinephrine levels of the participants increased by more than twice when they consumed the energy drink than when they drank the placebo drink. They also found that the participants' blood pressure increased after drinking the energy drink.

Svatikova and colleagues said that these changes are linked to sympathetic activation that could predispose an individual to increased likelihood for cardiovascular conditions that could make young adults more at risk for heart problems albeit the researchers said that a larger study is needed to validate this.

"A commercially available energy drink significantly increased levels of blood pressure and catecholamines in young healthy adults," the researchers wrote in their study. "These acute hemodynamic and adrenergic changes may predispose to increased cardiovascular risk."

Many adverse incidents linked to consumption of energy drink have already been reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Over the last two and a half year alone, the FDA has received 107 reports of adverse reactions. Forty-four of these reported of heart problems and nine of the cases resulted in death.

The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAmHSA) says that energy drink may contain up to five times more caffeine than in a typical cup of coffee. A can of Rockstar energy drink contains 240 mg of caffeine, which means that just two cans of this drink can get an individual drinking well over the recommended 400 mg of caffeine for the day. 

Photo: Simon Desmarais | Flickr 

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