On energy drinks Terrell Owens is not your doctor

Lead researcher Roland Griffiths notes that energy drink brands like Red Bull, Rockstar and Monster contain 10 milligrams of caffeine per ounce, 14 times more than in a can of soda, or 7 cups of coffee.

Terrell Owens book cover from Terrellowens.comFootball star (and author) Terrell Owens has some bad timing.  

Just days after the Dallas Cowboys receiver signed to endorse an energy drink called Venom, Johns Hopkins warns that such drinks contain enough caffeine to be dangerous.

While a morning cuppa can be good for you lead researcher Roland Griffiths notes that energy drink brands like Red Bull, Rockstar and Monster contain 10 milligrams of caffeine per ounce, 14 times more than in a can of soda, or 7 cups of coffee.

Lawyers are already grabbing for the September 24 issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence, where 41 cases of caffeine abuse between 2002-2004 are documented, with symptoms like "nausea, vomiting, high blood pressure, tremors, dizziness and numbness." (That's the drinkers, not the lawyers.)

Griffiths compared the effect to "drinking a beer or scotch" without being warned. He wants caffeine quantities listed and those with the most caffeine to carry warning labels.

The American Beverage Association calls the article "a rhetorical attack" that lumps "mainstream" companies with "novelty names," offering a "fact sheet" claiming a 16 oz. Venti from Starbucks has twice the caffeine of a "mainstream energy drink."

So those suggesting that energy drinks should require warning labels need to be aware of the slippery slope this would create: to be consistent, products at coffeehouses also would require such unnecessary labeling.

Given how my local Starbucks is often filled with high school and college students, that's going to be tempting.

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