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FDA links energy drinks to more illnesses, deaths

November 16, 2012|By Jon Bardin
  • Monster Energy drinks — along with 5-Hour Energy and Rockstar Energy drinks — are under scrutiny by the FDA.
Monster Energy drinks — along with 5-Hour Energy and Rockstar Energy… (Karen Bleier / AFP/Getty )

The Food and Drug Administrationon Friday posted additional adverse event reports connecting two more energy drinks to 53 illnesses, five deaths and two chronic disabilities. The new information comes on the heels of an FDA announcement linking the extremely popular 5-Hour Energy shots to 92 sicknesses and 13 deaths.

The latest reports do not prove that the drinks -- Monster Energy and Rockstar Energy -- caused the illnesses or deaths, but rather register the fact that a doctor, family member, or patient believes the product might have played a role. An accumulation of the reports often leads to an FDA investigation to determine whether the products are in fact harmful.

If the products are responsible, the cause remains unclear. While all three drinks do contain significant levels of caffeine, even the most caffeine-rich of the three, 5-Hour Energy, has 215 milligrams of caffeine. That's around 50 milligrams less than a grande-sized coffee from Starbucks. Monster and Rockstar contain around 165 milligrams of caffeine each.

Based on daily recommended upper limits of caffeine intake of about 400 milligrams, it would require multiple drinks for caffeine alone to cause people to become sick -- though it is possible that people consume such beverages in larger quantities than they do coffee. Another possibility is that the beverages are consumed in conjunction with other substances, like alcohol or illegal drugs.

For now, no one knows for sure, but the number of adverse event reports released by the FDA continues to grow.

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