The Real Monster

The untold dangers of energy drinks

Ethan Biersdorff, Opinion Editor

When was the last time you saw an energy drink? A store? The school vending machine? In your friend’s hands, or even in your own? Energy drinks are everywhere, and are easily accessible for literally anyone. Whether it be Monster, Rockstar, Bang, Rebels, Redbull, or whatever else you drink, it’s a good way to get some energy when you need it. Unfortunately, the negatives outweigh the positives. 

    “They’re sort of a black box. We really don’t know a lot about them,” said Dr. John Higgins, a sports cardiologist at the University of Texas Health Science Center. The fact that not a lot is known is bad in and of itself, because that practically makes us test subjects. What we know now is still bad. What is scientifically agreed upon is that there are multiple health risks that are associated with commonly drinking energy drinks. 

    A lot of these health risks attack the heart. A study conducted at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA, shows that energy drinks can cause “abnormal heart rhythm, heart attack and sudden cardiac arrest.” While energy drinks haven’t led to many immediate deaths, over time they can lead to long term health problems. The drinks that we’re given by places such as Dairy Mart, right across the street, should not have this many health risks without us being made aware.

    One of these long term problems is a build up of calcium in heart cells. This makes your blood vessels tighten up, restricting your body’s blood flow. These are potential symptoms of the mix of caffeine and taurine, which together enhance each other’s effects. With the taurine being a synthetically made amino acid and caffeine being an energy enhancer.

    So what can be done? First, there should be more research done on energy drinks rather than just playing trial and error with the public. What you don’t know can hurt you, and for a significant amount of people who commonly drink energy drinks, it has. Energy drinks send thousands to the ER each year, and according to the Food and Drug Administration, there have been 34 deaths attributed to energy drinks in total. If there are deaths involved, there should be way more work being done to find out why, especially when people our age and younger can just walk in and buy them.

    Very little work is being done to determine the effects of energy drinks and if they are healthy for people our age to drink. Energy drink companies need to be held more accountable. The simple answer may seem to be to boycott or just entirely block energy drinks from minors but the best thing to do is to just drink in moderation. 

    Similar to alcohol, it’s not necessarily healthy, but one drink every once in a while won’t kill you. We don’t want another version of the Prohibition, because that just led to more problems. So instead of an all out ban, drink in moderation and be aware of the ingredients in your drink. There are definite dangers in common energy drink consumption but if you are smart and don’t drink it to a point of dependency an occasional energy drink for a quick boost before a test or some other important event. Make sure you know what they are allowing you to drink because the results may be surprising.