Health: Energy Drinks Can Cause Caffeine Overdose; There Are New Findings on Alcoholism; Curious About The Presidential Candidates’ Views on Health?September 30th, 2008
Energy drinks can cause caffeine overdose. The super-decaffeinated energy drinks can trigger caffeine intoxication, according to the findings of a new study published in the most recent issue of the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. “The caffeine content of energy drinks varies over a 10-fold range, with some containing the equivalent of 14 cans of Coca-Cola, yet the caffeine amounts are unlabeled and few include warnings about potential health risks of caffeine intoxication,” said one of the authors of the study, Roland Griffiths of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. A regular 12-ounce cola drink has about 35 milligrams of caffeine. A 6-ounce cup of brewed coffee has 80 to 150 milligrams of caffeine. The Food and Drug Administration imposes limits on how much caffeine food products can contain (71 milligrams for each 12-ounce can). But energy drinks are designated as dietary supplements, not food products, and their makers can load their products with caffeine – and do. Moreover, says Chad Reissig, another of the stud’s authors: “It’s notable that over-the-counter caffeine-containing products require warning labels, yet energy drinks do not.”Caffeine intoxication, a recognized clinical syndrome, is described as nervousness, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, gastrointestinal upset, tremors, rapid heartbeat, restlessness and pacing. In rare cases, caffeine intoxication can cause death. See this Mayo Clinic report on caffeine side effects and this L.A. Times story on energy drinks that was written by a doctor. One death apparently linked the drinking of a popular energy drink, Red Bull, made the headlines in 2000, when Irish athlete Ross Cooney, 18, died of sudden adult death syndrome hours after drinking four cans of the drink. Following the incident, France prohibited the energy drink, but it removed the ban only days after. However, in countries such as Norway, Uruguay and Denmark, it remains banned. Decaffeinated energy drinks are a growing concern because they guarantee super alertness. Still, they carry with 10 times or even more the caffeine content of soft drinks. Advertising for energy drinks is aimed at teens and young adults and promotes the drinks as performance enhancers. Recently, however, some manufacturers have applied a harder edge to their marketing. One product is named Cocaine, and another product, a powdered energy drink sold in a vial, is named Blow. The makers of both products have received warning letters from the FDA about misleading advertising. The team of researchers from Johns Hopkins University who carried out the study said that manufacturers should note on decaffeinated energy drinks’ labels the caffeine doses the products carry, and to caution on presumptive risks they pose to consumers.
There are new findings on alcoholism. More than a third of adults with alcohol dependencies that began more than one year ago are now in full recovery, according to an article in the current issue of Addiction. The fully recovered individuals show symptoms of neither alcoholism nor alcohol abuse and either abstain or drink at levels below those known to increase relapse risk, reports BlackDoctor.com. They include roughly equal proportions of abstainers (18.2 percent) and low-risk drinkers (17.7 percent). The analysis is based on data released Monday from the 2001-2002 National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), a project of the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). One-quarter (25.0 percent) of 43,000 adults studied who were alcoholism that began more than one year ago now are dependent, 27.3 percent are in partial remission (that is, exhibit some symptoms of alcoholism or alcohol abuse), and 11.8 percent are asymptomatic risk drinkers with no symptoms but whose drinking increases their chances of relapse (for men, more than 14 drinks per week or more than four drinks on any day; for women, more than 7 drinks per week or more than three drinks on any day), according to the analysis. “Results from the latest NESARC analysis strengthen previous reports that many persons can and do recover from alcoholism,” said NIAAA Director Ting-Kai Li, M.D. “Today’s report is valuable as a snapshot of current conditions and for information about some of the characteristics associated with different recovery types.” The researchers said that more study would be needed to find out what caused the changes over time. The likelihood of abstinent recovery increased over time and with age and was higher among women, individuals who were married or cohabiting, individuals with an onset of dependence at ages 18-24, and persons who had experienced a greater number of dependence symptoms, the researchers found. They also discovered that the more the alcohol dependent people drink the less likely their chances were that they’d recover.
Curious about the presidential candidate’s views on health? Two new Web tool helps you find out exactly where the presidential candidates stand on health issues. The Kaiser Family Foundation has added two new resources on its health08.org Web site detailing presidential candidates Sen. John McCain’s and Sen. Barack Obama’s stance on key health care issues, building upon health08.org’s existing comparison of the candidates’ health reform proposals. A new, interactive tool allows users to compare the candidates proposals and positions on a range of health care issues — biomedical research, care coordination and prevention, health information technology, HIV/AIDS, long-term care, racial disparities, Medicaid and SCHIP, mental health parity, prescription drugs, and other health issues not necessarily addressed in the candidates’ health care reform proposals. These comparisons are based on information compiled and video from the candidates’ Web sites and speeches and campaign debates. A separate side-by-side comparison of the candidates’ health reform proposals is also available on health08.org. You can also find the foundation’s first brief, Covering the Uninsured: Options for Reform at Health08.org.