Experts say the stimulant effect of caffeine found in energy drinks “masks” the feeling of tiredness typically induced by booze
CLUBBERS who binge on vodka-Red Bull or Jaegerbombs are at greater risk of injury because they underestimate how drunk they are, research suggests.
Experts say the stimulant effect of caffeine found in energy drinks “masks” the feeling of tiredness typically induced by booze.
It leads to people staying out longer, consuming more alcohol, and engaging in riskier behaviour that can result in trips, falls and fights.
A team at the University of Victoria, in Canada, reviewed 13 previous studies into the use of alcohol mixed with energy drinks, known as AmED.
Of those studies, ten showed evidence of a link between AmED and an increased risk of injury compared to drinking alcohol only.
The review classified injuries as unintentional, such as falls or motor vehicle accidents, and intentional, such as fights or other physical violence.
Study leader Audra Roemer likened the effect of mixing the two drinks to taking cocaine and warned it “could be a serious public health concern”.
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She said: “Cocaine is obviously a strong stimulant, and I was curious about lower level stimulants that are more socially acceptable.
“I wondered if they were having a similar impact but to a lesser degree.
“The research we’ve done so far points to an increased risk of injuries with the use of AmED that could be a serious public health concern.
“The stimulant effects of caffeine mask the result that most people get when they drink. Usually when you’re drinking alcohol, you get tired and you go home.
“Energy drinks mask that, so people may underestimate how intoxicated they are, end up staying out later, consume more alcohol, and engage in risky behaviour and more hazardous drinking practices.”
Three of the studies looked at whether risk-taking or sensation-seeking tendencies play a role in injuries associated with AmED use.
Ms Roemer said: “We know that these are risk factors for alcohol-related injuries, and some research has suggested that people who have these traits might prefer the awake-drunk state that you get from mixing alcohol and energy drinks.
“This could be a population that’s at even higher risk for injuries.”
Wide variation between the studies made it difficult to compare results and prevented the researchers from statistically determining the extent of the risk.
Ms Roemer said: “At the end of the day, we looked at all of the studies, but more research is needed to confirm our findings.
“We’re currently running a controlled emergency department study to look at the relationship a little more closely. Hopefully that will bring more answers.
“Our hope is to conduct and facilitate future research in order to identify limitations and get a closer look at the topic to see what’s really going on.”
The findings are published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
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