Study: Just one energy drink worsens blood vessel function

DALLAS — Energy drinks remain wildly popular among young adults, but a new study finds that drinking just one leads to markedly worsened blood vessel function, even among healthy people.

The authors believe that the ingredients in energy drinks, which typically consist of caffeine, taurine and other herbal supplements, along with high amounts of sugar, may be harmful to the lining of the blood vessels.

For the study, researchers from the McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston monitored 44 healthy medical students in their 20s for the study. Participants had their blood vessel function tested before drinking a 24-ounce energy drink, and then again 90 minutes after consuming the beverage.

The authors used ultrasound technology to measure artery flow-mediated dilation, a reading used to determine one’s overall blood vessel health. Results showed that vessel dilation dropped from 5.1 percent in diameter on average before participants consumed the energy drink to 2.8 percent 90 minutes later. Such a decrease suggests acute impairment in vascular function, or blood flow within the arteries.

“As energy drinks are becoming more and more popular, it is important to study the effects of these drinks on those who frequently drink them and better determine what, if any, is a safe consumption pattern,” the authors wrote.

The study’s findings will be presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2018 in Chicago.

In 2014, the World Health Organization warned that energy drinks may pose a danger to public health, and a study published last year in the journal Frontiers in Public Health found that they may be cause kidney damage, increased blood pressure, and even mental health problems.

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