Hoaxes & Rumors

Dangers of Red Bull and Energy Drinks: Real or Hoax?

Dangers of Red Bull and Energy Drinks: Real or Hoax?

An online rumor has claimed Red Bull causes a “slow death” and has been banned in several countries due to health concerns. Is this real or a hoax?

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Online Rumor

Let’s take a look at a warning that was circulating in 2013:

France & Denmark have banned it from the country…

RED BULL – slow death …

Do NOT drink this drink anymore!

Pay attention…read everything…

As a public health safety, please pass on this email to all the contacts in your address book especially those with teenage children.

This drink is SOLD in all the supermarkets IN OUR country and our children ARE CONSUMING IT ON A TRIAL BASIS. IT can be FATAL.

RED BULL was created to stimulate the brains in people who are subjected to great physical force and in stress coma and never to be consumed like an innocent drink or soda pop.

RED BULL IS the energizer DRINK that is commercialized world-wide with its slogan: “It increases endurance, awakens the concentration capacity and the speed of reaction, offers more energy and improves the mood. All this can be found in a can of RED BULL, the power drink of the millennium.”

RED BULL has managed to arrive in almost 100 countries worldwide. The RED BULL logo is targeted at young people and sportsmen, two attractive segments that have been captivated by the stimulus that the drink provides.

It was created by Dietrich Mateschitz, an industrialist of Austrian origin who discovered the drink by chance. It happened during a business trip to Hong Kong , when he was working at a factory that manufactured toothbrushes.

The liquid, based on a formula that contained caffeine and taurine, caused a rage in that country. Imagine the grand success of this drink in Europe where the product still did not exist, besides it was a superb opportunity to become an entrepreneur.

BUT THE TRUTH ABOUT THIS DRINK IS ANOTHER THING

FRANCE and DENMARK have just prohibited it as a cocktail of death, due to its vitamin components mixed with GLUCURONOLACTONE ‘ – a highly-dangerous chemical, which was developed by the United States Department of Defense during the sixties to stimulate the moral of the troops based in VIETNAM, which acted like a hallucinogenic drug that calmed the stress of the war.

But their effects in the organism were so devastating, that it was discontinued, because of the high index of cases of migraines, cerebral tumors and diseases of the liver that was evident in the soldiers who consumed it.

And in spite of it, in the can of RED BULL you can still find as one of its components: GLUCURONOLACTONE, categorized medically as a stimulant. But what it does not say on the can of RED BULL are the consequences of its consumption, and that has forced a series of WARNINGS…

1. It is dangerous to take it if you do not engage in physical exercise afterwards, since its energizing function accelerates the heart rate and can cause a sudden attack.

2. You run the risk of undergoing a cerebral hemorrhage, because RED BULL contains components that dilute the blood so that the heart utilizes less energy to pump the blood, and thus be able to deliver physical force with less effort being exerted.

3. It is prohibited to mix RED BULL with alcohol, because the mixture turns the drink into a ” Deadly Bomb ” that attacks the liver directly, causing the affected area never to regenerate anymore.

4. One of the main components of RED BULL is the B12 vitamin, used in medicine to recover patients who are in a coma ; from here the hypertension and the state of excitement which is experienced after taking it, as if you were in a drunken state.

5. The regular consumption of RED BULL triggers off symptoms in the form of a series of irreversible nervous and neuronal diseases.

CONCLUSION: It is a drink that should be prohibited in the entire world as when it is mixed with alcohol it creates a TIME BOMB for the human body, mainly between innocent adolescents and adults with little experience. Forward this mail to Everyone and Let them know about this.

Claims

Let’s now take a look at a few of the claims made above…

Red Bull was never intended to be consumed as a soda – The product’s origins can be traced back to 1970s Thailand and a drink called “Krating Daeng”, or Red Bull. The brand was launched in 1984 with the intent of making it a global product inspired by “tonic drinks” in Asia.

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Red Bull was was created by Dietrich Mateschitz, who discovered the drink in Hong Kong – It was actually inspired by Chaleo Yoovidhya of Thailand. Chaleo later turned Red Bull into a global brand with business partner Dietrich Mateschitz, who helped further refine the product’s flavor and marketing strategy by 1987.

FRANCE and DENMARK have just prohibited Red Bull due to GLUCURONOLACTONE – France, Denmark, and Norway had banned Red Bull due to Taurine, not  glucuronolactone. This didn’t “just happen” either, France originally banned the drink in the 90s. France involuntarily approved the original Red Bull recipe in 2008 due to obligations to European Union regulations which require scientific evidence of a substance being harmful prior to banning. Red Bull does contain glucuronolactone, yet the the rumor’s claims about Vietnam, tumors, and it being a hallucinogenic are completely false.

You run the risk of undergoing a cerebral hemorrhage -We found no evidence that this is true or was ever reported. The most common suggestion by officials is that the high levels of caffeine could be dangerous to children and those with heart conditions or pregnancy.

It is prohibited to mix RED BULL with alcohol – The online rumor claims that mixing Red Bull and alcohol is prohibited as it is very damaging to the liver. Although excessive alcohol use can damage the liver on its own, this claim appears to be unfounded. In fact, Red Bull has become a popular mixed-drink ingredient. However, there are some concerns. The main cause of apprehension are studies which have shown that the stimulants (for example, caffeine and taurine) in Red Bull and other energy drinks can reduce perception of intoxication which may result in drinking to further excess. Another study found similar results along with an increase in impulsive risk-taking behavior. Both alcohol and stimulants can cause dehydration, especially when combined. Be sure to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water when mixing alcohol and energy drinks. The Liquor Control Board from the state of Washington provided an informative webpage (archived) on the potential dangers of mixing alcohol and energy drinks.

The regular consumption of RED BULL triggers off symptoms in the form of a series of irreversible nervous and neuronal diseases – They cite no sources, and we could find nothing to confirm this.

Possible Energy Drink Deaths

Energy drinks such as Red Bull and Monster Energy have continued to receive bad publicity. Consider:

  • A 2009 UK incident in which a young woman died because a heart condition “may have been triggered” by Red Bull (among other health factors).
  • A Decmeber 2011 incident in which a 14-year old girl drank two 24-ounce Monster Energy drinks, totaling 480mg of caffeine. She went into cardiac arrest and later died. The girl had a common preexisting heart condition. The cause of death was listed as, “cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity.”
  • Canadian health officials reported in 2012 that energy drinks caused 3 deaths and led to serious health problems in 35 others over a 9-year period.
  • A FDA report in 2012 stated that over an 8-year period, Red Bull had been mentioned in 21 reports filed with the agency. That doesn’t mean Red Bull was the cause, but merely that it was mentioned.
  • The FDA also reported in October of 2012 that Monster Energy was cited in 5 fatality reports. This doesn’t mean it was responsible, but merely mentioned in the accounts.
  • In June of 2013, NBC reported that a 19-year-old man died of cardiac arrest. The parents of the teenager were reportedly filing a lawsuit against Monster Beverage Corp. with claims that the death was a result of the teen’s custom of drinking 2 Monster Energy drinks daily for three years.
  • March 2014 article from the Washington Post reports that there were 20,783 nationwide emergency room visits related to energy drinks in 2011. According to the article, 10% of these occasions among individuals age 12 and older were serious enough to warrant hospitalization.
  • June 2014 episode in which a 16-year-old girl died of a cardiac arrest after consuming energy drinks while on vacation. The New York Daily News reports that the girl’s friends stated she was not drinking water, and implies that she may have been dehydrated.
  • September 2014 occurrence in which a 35-year-old Australian man died of a massive cardiac arrest due to caffeine toxicity. According to the Daily Mail, the man drank four Monster Energy drinks a day along with 4-5 cups of coffee.

Caffeine

Healthy adults tolerate rather high quantities of caffeine quite well. Those with underlying health problems, such as heart conditions, may be susceptible to increased risks with higher levels.  Children and adolescents, however, may be more susceptible to side effects of high quantities of caffeine. According to the Washington Post, a cup of strongly brewed coffee contains roughly the same amount of caffeine as an energy drink. The following is a quote from the article regarding caffeine limits for adults and children:

Studies have set different limits for the amount of caffeine an adult can safely consume, ranging from 200 to 400 milligrams a day. More than 200 milligrams can be dangerous for children and adolescents, and the American Academy of Pediatrics advises against giving energy drinks to children.

Taurine

This amino acid has been the subject of debate for years, and its effects still aren’t fully known. Countries such as Denmark, Norway, and France have cited concerns about this ingredient based on some studies which pointed to synthetic taurine as a possible cause of such problems as high blood pressure, strokes, seizures, and heart disease.

Bans and Proposed Bans

Because of the negative press that energy drinks receive, there have been a number of bans or proposed bans. Consider a the following sample of news stories:

  • Chicago – In January 2013, a proposal was introduced in Chicago that would ban energy drinks, citing FDA reports linking five deaths  “since 2009 to a beverage called Monster Energy.” Ironically, many of the most popular energy drinks would still be allowed under their proposed guidelines.
  • Suffolk County, New York – In December 2010 the Suffolk County Board of Health suggested a ban on energy drinks for anyone under the age of 19 due to concerns over caffeine levels.
  • Kentucky – State Rep. Danny Ford proposed legislation that would ban the sale of energy drinks to anyone under the age of 18.
  • Maryland – In early 2014, CBS reported that the state of Maryland had proposed legislation that would ban the sale of energy drinks to minors. Apparently, the bill was almost unanimously struck down.
  • American Medical Association – In June of 2013, Forbes published an article which claimed that the American Medical Association (AMA) considered banning energy drinks for minors. Although the ban never came to fruition, the AMA did support a ban on energy drink marketing.
  • France – Red Bull was banned in its original recipe until 2008 due to health concerns about the ingredient taurine (not caffeine, as some sites report, because a caffeinated version was sold in France without taruine). Prior to 2008, it was sold with a recipe omitting taurine. A 2004 attempt to overturn the ban failed.
  • England – According to a Telegraph article from June of 2013, a secondary school in Derbyshire had banned student from drinking energy drinks. The article goes on to say that several British schools had banned energy drinks after observing behavioral changes in students that consumed the beverages. In addition, a BBC article from November of 2013 reported that a major supermarket in the UK had banned the sale of energy drinks to people under the age of 16.
  • Lithuania – Time article from May of 2014 states that the European country of Lithuania had voted to ban Red Bull.

Bottom Line

There is some truth that large quantities of caffeine found in energy drinks can be a health concern to some people – especially children and teens. The warning being circulated online, however, contains additional information which is a mixture of exaggeration and complete falsehoods.

Updated October 9, 2014
Originally published January 2013

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