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ER Visits for Energy-Drink Ills Soar in U.S.
Date:11/22/2011

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Nov. 22 (HealthDay News) -- As the popularity of non-alcoholic "energy" drinks skyrockets, so do related health problems, a new study finds.

In 2009, U.S. emergency rooms treated almost 10 times more cases of reactions to beverages such as Monster and Rockstar than they did in 2005, according to a new U.S. government report released Tuesday.

More than 13,000 ER visits related to the highly caffeinated drinks were reported in 2009, said researchers from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Nearly half the emergencies occurred after the beverages were mixed with alcohol or other drugs, and young adults aged 18 to 25 accounted for more than half of those cases, the researchers found.

"A lot of attention has been paid to energy drinks that have alcohol in them and everybody understands that the effect of that can be pretty serious, but energy drinks by themselves can have adverse effects," said lead author Albert Woodward, project director of SAMHSA's Drug Abuse Warning Network.

Sales of these flavored drinks soared 240 percent from 2004 to 2009, Woodward said. Popular brands include Red Bull, Full Throttle (produced by Coca-Cola) and AMP, in addition to Monster and Rockstar.

The drinks contain stimulants such as caffeine, and the amount of caffeine in a can or bottle varies by brand. Whereas a five-ounce cup of coffee contains about 100 milligrams (mg) of caffeine and a 12-ounce cola about 50 mg, some energy drinks contain about 80 mg, others as much as 500 mg, according to the report.

"That's a huge dose of caffeine," said Dr. Jeffrey N. Bernstein, medical director of the Florida Poison Information Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

High doses of caffeine can cause abnormal heart rhythms, high blood pressure, dehydration and other serious conditions.

"Many of the
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