As the Food and Drug Administration investigates recent deaths linked to Monster Energy drinks, one local doctor wants to warn people of the harmful effects the high doses of caffeine can have on your body.
Investigating five deaths where Monster drinks were involved, the FDA says the "adverse event reports do not prove what caused the events", however Covenant ER Doctor James Williams says these energy drinks can be very dangerous.
"We haven't seen deaths here, but we have seen people significantly ill, and have required emergent care or else it could have led to something more serious," Williams said.
Williams says the real risk comes when people mix depressants like alcohol with the stimulants like the caffeine filled energy drinks; throw in medications and he says it can become deadly.
"It's particularly worse with college age people. If they're using Adderall or other prescription medications, or if they're using it with alcohol or an illicit drug, that's when they're really at risk," Williams said. "The combination of an unregulated energy drink with a medication really can lead to disastrous consequences."
The energy drinks promise to "unleash the beast" as written on the cans, and to boost your energy levels. However Williams says if you drink too many in a short period of time the high levels of caffeine mixed with the other ingredients in the drinks can raise your heart rate to unsafe levels.
"Cola will have ‘x' amount of caffeine, but compared to a 16ounce Monster drink those have seven times the amount of caffeine," he said. "Basically it can be like speed, and your body simply can't endure that sense of stimulation for prolonged periods of time. That's when you have these terrible events primarily cardiac events."
Monster drinks do come with warnings on their cans saying it's not recommended for children, pregnant women or people sensitive to caffeine, but Williams says the real problem is the drinks are not regulated by the FDA. "That's why they're so harmful, because there's been no study before anybody takes it to ensure they're safe," Williams said.
Williams says he would not recommend energy drinks to anyone, but says if you do then drink them in moderation.
After the allegation of Monster being linked to deaths, Monster released a statement saying their products are safe and have always been safe. They also say there is no science or facts that prove the energy drinks have caused fatalities.
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