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Long-Term Effects of Energy Drinks

Within the past decade there has been a growing popularity of energy drinks of which there are innumerable brands that you can find in literally every store in the country. From corner curb stores to large supermarket chains you will see at least two or three brands in the cooler behind those tempting glass doors. The problem with energy drinks seems to be that no one really knows for sure what the long term effects are, but based on the ingredients it is safe to assume that the most dangerous ingredient in them seems to be caffeine, and its deceptive counterpart, guarana.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of misleading information floating around about guarana which touts it as being a ‘safer alternative to caffeine.’ Nonsense! The chemical in guarana that gives us that ‘boost’ is guarine which is, in fact, another name for caffeine! It just comes from a different plant. And of course, a rose by any other name is still a rose! While there is still a certain amount of controversy as to just what the long term effects of caffeine are, there are four major areas that have been associated (and well documented) with the long term effects of caffeine.

Caffeine Addiction

It is true that caffeine gives us that quick pulse of energy when called upon, but drinking caffeinated drinks over time will lead to a caffeine addiction. You may notice that I said ‘will lead’ to a caffeine addiction and not ‘may lead’ to one. You may not realize it but caffeine is one of the most addictive substances on earth and if you consume it every day over a period of years your body will become dependent on it in more ways than one. Caffeine addiction is not only in the area of energy, but caffeine addiction is also prevalent in other areas of the body as well.

Diuretic Dependence

Most of those OTC diet pills that claim to have a diuretic in them to help with water retention simply have caffeine. The caffeine is meant to provide extra energy that dieters aren’t getting from foods, but will also stimulate the production of urine which is what any self respecting diuretic should do. However, the downside to that is that over time, your body may become dependent on caffeine to stimulate kidney function and should you suddenly deprive your body of it, there could be serious consequences such as a loss of kidney function and a buildup of toxic urea.

Cardiovascular Disease

Because we know that caffeine speeds up the heart rate and also has been known to elevate blood pressure, there is growing concern over the amount of people with cardiovascular disease that have spent a lifetime drinking coffee, and other caffeinated beverages such as those potent energy drinks that are loaded with it. There is empirical data which substantiates that caffeine may lead to arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. Not only does it put you at risk for heart disease, but you may also be at an increased risk for strokes.

Osteoporosis

Of all the long term effects of energy drinks containing caffeine, osteoporosis is the least publicized risk factor. There are growing bodies of evidence that indicate the correlation between caffeine with the onset of and rate in which osteoporosis is evidenced in the body. This is thought to be because of the way in which caffeine promotes the loss of calcium in bones. While there is yet to be conclusive findings, evidence is leaning in that direction.

Of course there are also other long term effects that we are well aware of. Disrupted sleep patterns over a long period of time can cause permanent problems which have even been associated with sleep apnea. The real problem however is the fact that caffeine, and as a direct result of caffeine, energy drinks are addictive. A onetime beverage isn’t likely to cause any long term effects unless, of course, that rapid heart rate or elevated blood pressure causes an immediate arrhythmia leading to a heart attack. It is the long term effects we should be worried about, the greatest of which is addiction that leads to all the others.





Gary Wickman

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  • Comment #1 (Posted by an unknown user)
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    Didn't give enough information...
     
  • Comment #2 (Posted by Mac)
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    I'm in the marine corps and very rarely get more than 3 1/2 to 4 hours of sleep a night, on average I'll drink 4-5 energy drinks a day, sometimes more. Without energy drinks, or coffee (which is not nearly as accessible during working hours) I would not be able to complete what is expected of me every day, either because I would fall asleep, or because my body would be so drained from sleep deprivation that I would be essentially useless. I've tried every other option I've heard (5 hour energys and healthier versions such as verve being the most common suggestion) but nothing seems to work. Just seeing if there was anything new that could be suggested, or is my best bet just saying screw it and wait until I get out and start getting more sleep to try to be healthy. I know how bad this is for my body but so far I haven't felt any adverse effects from this lifestyle, and I'm certainly in better shape than most of America, but I know eventually it will catch up to me.
     
  • Comment #3 (Posted by steppingstone06@yahoo.com)
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    Amazing. The prolonged use of diuretics in energy drinks is bad for you, yet doctors prescribe all kinds of diuretics to hypertension patients and dismiss questions about long term effects. I kept bugging my doctor about it, so he prescribed a potassium-sparing diuretic, assuming incorrectly that I am too old to care about my sex life. I am taking my blood pressure med WITHOUT a diuretic, and wake up to a single sugar-free Monster every morning. My blood pressure is fine, I am losing weight, and my mood is good too. It is hypocritical for the medical profession to attack products like Monster while doling out scripts like candy on Halloween.
     
  • Comment #4 (Posted by Johnathan Large)
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    You didn't give enough information...
     
  • Comment #5 (Posted by an unknown user)
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    Very little information about energy drinks, could have replaced every instance of energy drink and replace it with coffee and this article would have been no different. If it was titled caffeine, would have rated it 2.5 stars. Did not provide any evidence supporting what you are stating. (According with which scientific study) caffeine can quicken the osteoporosis process only if the drinker does not maintain a proper diet. Caffeine can contribute to cardiovascular disease but is not the main cause. Please write about the other ingredients in energy drinks that could be harmful.
     
  • Comment #6 (Posted by kobe)
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    not very helpful
     
  • Comment #7 (Posted by an unknown user)
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    There are no sources from where this information was taken. It does not specify how much is "too" much. It does not specify what constitutes "long-term use." It just says "over time." Over how much time? I think it's ironic that this article has the line "there is a lot of misleading information floating around." Indeed, without sources the author leads me to believe he has either plagiarized or inferred this information. Either way, it is hardly academic or reliable.
     


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