More Reports Now Link High Caffeine Energy Drinks to Medical Problems

By Dave Franzman, Reporter

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By Liz Blood

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The Federal Food and Drug Administration is looking at reports that link a popular energy drink with as many as 13 deaths and 30 life-threatening medical incidents since 2008.

But, the FDA admits they have no proof at all that the Five Hour Energy product is connected with those medical cases.

The national news on Thursday may have concerned Five Hour Energy, made by the Michigan-based Living Essentials company. But, other so-called energy drinks have come under scrutiny as well. In October, the FDA also reported claims that the Monster brand energy drink was linked to five deaths over about the same period of time.

You can find the two-ounce Five Hour Energy shots on a lot of store shelves in eastern Iowa as well as the larger energy drinks in coolers. But several drivers at an I-380 rest stop, who use the products, didn’t sound too worried.

Steve Anderson, who was driving through Iowa from Minnesota, said, “I never worried about it, but I would never take more than one of those at a time.”

Wendy Bobyk, a trucker, added “I didn’t notice much of a difference in it. It’s like you drink coffee—you get caffeine in a cup of coffee too.”

The manufacturer of Five Hour Energy noted each bottle contains the caffeine equivalent of an eight ounce cup of coffee. Directions on the bottles tell users not to take more than two a day or combine it with alcohol.

Dr. Cam Campbell, a cardiologist in Cedar Rapids, said there’s not enough proof yet to recommend any kind of ban. Dr. Campbell also said more and more reports are coming in linking excess caffeine to medical complaints in some way.

“If you look at emergency room visits, there’s a report of 13,000 visits to E.R. rooms in 2009 for these energy drinks which is a lot of E.R. visits for these sorts of things,” Dr. Campbell said.

Dr. Campbell said if heart patients show certain symptoms, one automatic question physicians ask is whether they regularly use products containing high amounts of caffeine.

And while energy drinks with lots of caffeine may be popular with those who drive a lot, one trucker from Missouri said he can do without it. But Kenny Grisham also said a lot of truckers talk about doing shots of energy drinks all the time.

“I hear them talking on the radio, they do. But no, I don’t mess with it,” he said.

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