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These popular drinks could literally kill you

Published Feb 18th, 2021 7:22PM EST
energy drink health
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  • Energy drinks are an incredibly popular type of beverage that some people consume on a regular basis for performance-enhancing benefits.
  • Unfortunately, the drinks are often packed with sugar as well as other ingredients that may affect parts of the human body in less desirable ways.
  • A new study from scientists at Texas A&M suggests that many of the drinks may affect the heart in unforeseen ways, up to and including shortening your life expectancy. 

When 2 o’clock rolls around and the post-lunch coma starts to set in, or you’re up late trying to finish a work or school project, you might be tempted to reach for an energy drink. Energy drinks exploded in popularity a couple of decades ago and they’re still very popular today. They’re tasty and, depending on the brand, they definitely offer a boost of wakefulness and focus, but they also have a scary downside.

We all know that drinking sugary beverages isn’t good for us, but a new study by researchers at Texas A&M University suggests that energy drinks specifically may be even worse for us than we thought. The study looked at the effects of 17 different popular energy drink brands on the cells that make up the majority of the heart muscle. What they found was incredibly alarming, and may be enough to get you to swear off energy drinks for good.

In the study, the research team used highly precise instruments to measure the concentration of various ingredients in each of the energy drinks. They then observed the impacts that the various energy drink ingredients had on heart muscle cells. They specifically point out that the presence of theophylline, adenine, and azelate are troubling due to their known impacts on the heart.

“Because the consumption of these beverages is not regulated and they are widely accessible over the counter to all age groups, the potential for adverse health effects of these products is a subject of concern and needed research,” Dr. Ivan Rusyn, co-author of the work, said in a statement. “Indeed, the consumption of energy drinks has been associated with a wide range of adverse health effects in humans, many of them are concerning the effects on the heart.”

The research supports earlier assumptions that energy drinks tend to be a negative when it comes to heart health. In the past, such drinks have been linked to instances of serious heart ailments including cardiomyopathy, which is a condition where the heart can’t efficiently pump blood throughout the body.

“This study shows that some of the tested energy drinks may have effects on human cardiomyocytes, and these data corroborate other studies in humans,” Rusyn explains. “Therefore, we hope that the consumers will carefully weigh the performance-enhancing benefits of these beverages versus the emerging data that suggests that they may have real adverse effects.”

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