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Originally published September 9 2008

High-Caffeine Energy Drinks Like Red Bull Linked to Violence, Risk-Taking Among Teens

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Teenagers who drink large quantities energy drinks such as Red Bull are more likely to engage in risky and violent behavior, researchers have warned.

Popular energy drinks with caffeine as the primary active ingredient include Amp, Full Throttle, Monster, Red Bull, Spike Shooter and Wired X344. The caffeine content of the drinks ranges from 100 to 430 milligrams per 12 ounces, compared with approximately 35 milligrams in 12 ounces of caffeinated cola.

"It appears the kids who are heavily into drinking energy drinks are more likely to be the ones who are inclined toward taking risks," said Kathleen Miller of the University of Buffalo.

In a study published in the Journal of American College Health, Miller and colleagues found that a collection of behaviors known as "toxic jock syndrome" was correlated with high consumption of energy drinks. Toxic jock syndrome includes symptoms such as substance abuse, unprotected sex and violence.

In a related study, researchers surveyed students at 10 North Carolina universities about their alcohol use, including the growing trend to mix alcohol with caffeinated energy drinks. They found that students who mixed the drinks got drunk twice as often, were more likely to be injured or require medical treatment while intoxicated, and were more likely to perpetrate or experience sexual assault than students who drank alcohol alone.
The effect was not related to the amount of alcohol consumed.

Some researchers have suggested that because the caffeine in energy drinks tends to make people feel more energetic, people who mix the drinks with alcohol do not realize how drunk they are and are more likely to take foolish risks.

"You're every bit as drunk, you're just an awake drunk," said researcher Mary Claire O'Brien of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Miller and colleagues stopped short of saying that energy drinks actually cause risky behavior, but warned that high consumption of the drinks might function as a warning sign for parents.

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