If You Don’t Want Hepatitis, Lay Off The Energy Drinks

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By Cooking Panda

Yikes.

We admit it: in moments of desperation — maybe after a night of poor rest, or after skipping our usual cup of morning coffee — we have sometimes reached for an energy drink to fuel us through a long day. One can’t hurt us, right?

Probably true — but consuming four or five cans of energy drinks on a daily basis might just put you at risk for hepatitis, which presents enough of a risk that we’re pretty much willing to put down energy drinks for life.

According to a British Medical Journal report, a 50-year-old construction worker presented with “malaise, anorexia, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, generalized jaundice, scleral icterus and dark urine.” But here’s the thing: the report claims that he was “previously healthy” and not on any prescription or over-the-counter medications.

He did, however, admit to drinking four to five energy drinks per day for three full weeks before presenting with his symptoms.

After undergoing a physical examination, it was revealed that the man had jaundice and felt tenderness in his right upper quadrant abdominals; additionally, laboratory studies showed transaminitis and “evidence of chronic hepatitis C infection.”

Essentially, there is an ingredient in energy drinks called niacin, which is basically just vitamin B3; researchers now claim that niacin was actually to blame for the man’s development of hepatitis, specifically because over-consumption of the vitamin has been linked to liver damage.

Did you know, for example, that Eater reports that a single, 8.4-ounce can of Red Bull actually contains 21.7 milligrams of niacin? That is 108 percent of the recommended daily value. Now imagine consuming five cans of those.

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Luckily, the report notes that the patient was able to be treated with complete resolution of his symptoms. Of course, the study was careful to issue a warning regardless.

“The development of acute hepatitis in this patient was likely secondary to excessive energy drink consumption,” its summary concludes.

“Energy drinks as well as other herbal/over-the-counter supplements should be considered by clinicians in the workup of patients with acute hepatitis, particularly once other aetiologies have been excluded.”

Sources: Eater, Case Reports / Photo credit: Bob Elbert for Iowa State University

Tags: energy drinks, health scare, hepatitis, niacin, vitamin b3
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