Researcher: I Never Said Energy Drinks Were Dangerous (I Left That to My Colleague)

Monster BeverageMonster BeverageThe leader of a research team that measured the acute effects of energy drinks on heart function emphasizes that he never said those effects were dangerous, although press coverage of the study viewed the findings with alarm. Responding to criticism from Monster Beverage, which called the study "alarmist and misleading," University of Bonn radiologist Daniel Thomas tells Food Navigator:

Although energy drinks have previously been shown to enhance athletes' endurance, this is the first study using advanced imaging technology...to directly demonstrate the impact of an energy drink on myocardial contraction. Whether this increase in contractility is generally beneficial or not cannot be deducted from our study or from the current literature but warrants further investigation. Specifically, the dose dependency of this effect and long-term effects have yet to be investigated.

It's true that the study, which has not been published yet but was summarized at a recent meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, does not demonstrate any harmful effects from consuming energy drinks. But in a press release issued by the society, Thomas' collaborator, Jonas Dorner, suggested otherwise, saying, "There are concerns about the products' potential adverse side effects on heart function, especially in adolescents and young adults, but there is little or no regulation of energy drink sales." The press release reinforced this negative impression by citing an increase in "emergency department visits related to energy drink consumption." Dorner made sure the study would be portrayed as yet more evidence that energy drinks are a public health menace by adding, "The amount of caffeine [in energy drinks] is up to three times higher than in other caffeinated beverages like coffee or cola. There are many side effects known to be associated with a high intake of caffeine, including rapid heart rate, palpitations, rise in blood pressure and, in the most severe cases, seizures or sudden death."

As I pointed out on Monday, Dorner's statement that energy drinks contain more caffeine than coffee is flat-out wrong: In fact, coffee contains a lot more caffeine per milliliter than energy drinks do—more than twice as much, based on a comparison of Starbucks coffee and the energy drink used in Thomas and Dorner's study. That point is crucial because the health concerns raised by Dorner are health concerns about caffeine, meaning the emphasis on energy drinks cannot be rationally justified. The relative doses suggest exactly the opposite of what Dorner implied: If caffeine is the problem, energy drinks are demonstrably safer than coffee.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Sunken Idaho||

    It would be much simpler to ask "what wouldn't you regulate?" and then just proceed from there. Besides twelve-year old girls looking for those nefarious, back-alley abortions, I can't think of anything outside the boundaries of bureaucratic nannies.

  • Hugh Akston||

    They would regulate those too, but only to make the the alleys cleaner, and to make sure they used a new coathanger every time.

    Regulations are the State's way of saying 'I Love You.'

  • Nazdrakke||

    If caffeine is the problem, energy drinks are demonstrably safer than coffee.

    Wacky libertarians will their facts and shit..

  • ||

    E-cigs are demonstrably safer than regular cigs, and they want to ban those too.

    If you come into this looking for logic and reason, you will walk away emptyhanded.

  • ||

    Nah, you'll probably walk away with a handful of your own hair, or possibly someone else's.

  • ||

    No one wants to hear about your bizarre hirsute fetishes, nicole. Except NutraSweet, I'm pretty sure he does.

  • SugarFree||

    I do. I really, really do.

  • ||

    Well then here you go, Sug.

  • SugarFree||

    Do they make paper sacks you can get a whole girl into?

  • ||

    As you can see...no.

  • SugarFree||

    Nurts. [kicks can]

  • Zeb||

    They do make lights that turn off, though.

  • Jesus H. Christ||

    Another blatant example of the corruption of science. Well, since the science is settled, what difference, at this point, does it make?

  • CampingInYourPark||

    +1 bleeding session

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    The caffeine myths have been swirling for decades. The worst one, IMHO, is something Jacob mentions, the myth that any soft drink has more caffeine than coffee. It is right alongside the myth that caffeine levels in these drinks are not regulated. Even doctors, in their jihad for increasing sugar regulations, invoke this bull that caffeine is not regulated. I would gladly attribute this to ignorance, but everything else this crowd does is one lie piled on another.

  • The Rt. Hon. Serious Man, Visc||

    I'm not surprised that an energy drink popular with today's youth and comes in a bright, scary-looking can arouses the ban boners in government.

    That being said, in college I had a roommate that would fill our fridge with Monsters and would probably drink at least half a dozen a day. The thought of chugging down that crap sickens me.

  • ||

    I used to drink Sugar Free Rockstars quite a bit. The convenience was nice, but after a while I had to stop, but that's more about me needing to back off of caffeine than any problem with the energy drink itself.

    I did have a nice drive from Vegas to Tucson one time where I left in the late morning and arrived in the evening, and all I ate/drank were three Sugar Free Rockstars, three Vicodin, and a tiny packet of beef jerky. With satellite radio, that was actually a fun drive.

  • Nazdrakke||

    I used to drink Sugar Free

    I admit I couldn't read past this phrase..

  • ||

    What makes it even better is that his handle is, in fact, derived from Sugar Free Rockstar.

  • SugarFree||

    It is known.

  • ||

    I thought it was derived from his being retarded in the pancreas.

  • SugarFree||

    And now you know the rest of the story.

  • trshmnstr||

    I got hooked on the blue Monsters during senior design in college. It got to a point where I could fall asleep 30 minutes after chugging one. That's when you know it's time to go on a break. I was on a 2-3 drink a night binge for 3 weeks at that point. By then I was just pissing Monster.

  • Zeb||

    "There are concerns about the products' potential adverse side effects on heart function, especially in adolescents and young adults, but there is little or no regulation of energy drink sales."

    Well, I'm sure that is a true statement. As is "there are concerns that Jews use the blood of Christian children to make their matzoh".

  • Being Waterboarded||

    AND there are NO regulations of such blood use!

  • ||

  • Being Waterboarded||

    Sweet commercial... I bet it would work, too.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement