Energy drinks, like Red Bull, are two-faced monsters. Their danger lies in the over-concentration of both caffeine and sugar they give to consumers. Compared to the average cup of coffee which has 100 milligrams of caffeine, energy drinks usually have somewhere closer to 500 milligrams. They also have caffeine imitators like guarana, another stimulant. On top of that, drinking just two average energy drinks can mean going six times over the recommended daily dose of sugar.
There are serious potential consequences to the overconsumption of caffeine. In the most extreme cases, for example, when energy drinks are combined with soft drinks and coffee, fatal cardiac arrhythmias can be induced. Caffeine intake correlates to increases in blood pressure and heart rate. High amounts of caffeine will also constrict blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart attack and strokes. Over the last decade, the number of ER visits related to energy drinks has doubled.
It is common for people under stress, like students cramming for exams or journalists on deadlines, to pound energy drinks to stay awake and keep working. The caffeine and stress create a strange brew which is known to cause panic attacks in some individuals. The extreme concentration of caffeine in energy drinks becomes all the more dangerous when mixed with alcohol and other drugs. Bars typically serve energy drinks as mixers. Patrons who are exhausted or on other depressants like anti-anxiety medications can put themselves in extreme danger by consuming loads of energy drinks in these intense environments.
Caffeine is not the only potentially harmful substances in energy drinks. Ginseng, an additive in many of these beverages has been linked to insomnia, high blood pressure, and headaches. All of the common dangers related to high sugar consumption applies to energy drinks. They typically contain refined sugars like high fructose corn syrup or sucrose which are the most unhealthy forms of sugar. Diabetes and gum disease are among the disorders people who consume excess sugar put themselves at risk to contract. Sugar is related to inflammatory conditions in general, so the risk for coronary disease and dementia, and other like inflammatory conditions rises with sugar intake.