Well Being

5-Hour Energy Linked To 13 Deaths And ‘Spontaneous Abortion’; Why Is Anyone Still Buying Energy Drinks?

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5 hour energy death

It seems there's never been a better time to quit drinking caffeine, especially if you're hooked on energy drinks: First, there was Monster; now, the FDA is saying that 5-Hour Energy was mentioned in 90 FDA filings–including 13 deaths and 30 life-threatening events, including a ‘spontaneous abortion' (i.e. miscarriage)–over the past four years. And we thought soda was bad.

The New York Times reported yesterday that, although an FDA filing doesn't mean that the incident was necessarily caused or related to the product mentioned, the 13 deaths were reported by Living Essentials, the parent company of 5-Hour Energy. Daniel Fabricant, the FDA's director of dietary supplement programs, said that they're looking into those cases, and still unsure whether there will be sufficient medical evidence to determine what role 5-Hour Energy played in the deaths.

Just two weeks ago, the FDA announced that they were investigating 5 deaths associated with Monster energy drink. And in the past few months, energy drinks have also been banned from some schools, associated with depression, and makers have been subpoenaed in New York for making false claims. So…why is anyone still drinking them?

Part of the reason is probably because energy drinks still aren't required to provide information about their caffeine content–something the FDA says they still don't have sufficient evidence to change. Consumer Reports found that 5-Hour Energy contains about 215 mg of caffeine (way more than an eight-ounce cup of coffee, which contains about 100-150 mg, but still less than Monster, which contains about 240 mg per 24-ounce can).

Energy drinks aren't all created equal, and it's possible to consume just as much (or more) caffeine through coffee and soda. But with any products that list themselves as dietary supplement, it's harder to determine exactly what combination of stimulants, and in what amount, you're consuming. So, until they're required to provide more information, stick with something like coffee, soda, or even Red Bull (which markets itself as a beverage, not a supplement)…and try to cap off your consumption at a healthy level (the Mayo clinic says 200 to 300 mg per day–consumed as three to four cups of coffee, is probably safe for most adults).

Photo: flickr user ~Twon~