"We don't know what these additives do to the body after periods of extended use," Blankson said.
Moreover, young people often mix energy drinks and alcoholic beverages, or buy energy drinks that contain alcohol. One-quarter of students surveyed at 10 North Carolina universities said they had consumed energy drinks mixed with alcohol in the past month, the report noted. And 23 university students in New Jersey and nine in Washington state were hospitalized in 2010 after drinking an energy drink spiked with alcohol.
U.S. health officials have sounded alarms about energy drinks as well. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration recently reported that hospital visits related to the drinks doubled, to almost 21,000, between 2007 and 2011. About 42 percent of cases also included drug or alcohol use, the agency said.
According to the latest report, one unnamed 23.5-ounce alcoholic energy drink packs the booze of a six-pack of beer and the caffeine of five cups of coffee.
The American Beverage Association, which counts energy drink companies among its members, took issue with the report.
"This paper contains misinformation about energy drinks and does nothing to address the very serious problem of underage drinking and excessive alcohol consumption among young adults," the ABA said in a statement released Thursday.
"Contrary to the misperception perpetuated by this paper, most mainstream energy drinks contain only about half the amount of caffeine of a similar size cup of coffeehouse coffee," the ABA added.
The association also noted that it has issued a recommendation to all energy drink companies that they state on the label exactly how much caffeine is contained in each drink, and that the beverage is not recommended for children, pregn
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