For years, doctors have warned against the popular trend of mixing alcohol with highly-caffeinated energy drinks like Red Bull, since it sends your heart rate pumping dangerously fast.
But now, there may be a new reason for concern.
Researchers in Canada have found a high rate of injuries among people who drink vodka with Red Bull or something similar.
They believe the increased risk of injury boils down to the person’s excessive energy, which drives them to be reckless.
To investigate, researchers at the University of Victoria’s Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia analyzed 13 peer-reviewed studies published between 1981 and 2016.
Ten of those studies found a link between the use of alcohol mixed with energy drinks and an increased risk of injury, compared to just drinking alcohol.
The injuries ranged from unintentional falls or motor vehicle accidents, to intentional fights and outbursts.
’The stimulant effects of caffeine mask the result that most people get when they drink,’ says lead study author Audra Roemer.
’Usually when you’re drinking alcohol, you get tired and yo u go home. Energy drinks mask that, so people may underestimate how intoxicated they are, end up staying out later, consume more alcohol, and engage in risky behavior and more hazardous drinking practices.’
Roemer explained that she starting investigating this particular cocktail after researching how cocaine affects injury rates.
’Cocaine is obviously a strong stimulant, and I was curious about lower level stimulants that are more socially acceptable,’ she says. ’I wondered if they were having a similar impact but to a lesser degree.’
There was a wide variability in the studies that made it difficult to compare results.
Consequently, the researchers were not able to statistically determine the exact risk associated with drinking vodka Red Bull.
’At the end of the day, we looked at all of the studies, but more research is need to confirm our findings,’ says Roemer.
Roemer says the current study is the first of three planned articles that they hope to publish on the link between caffeinated alcohol drinks and the risk of injury.
’We’re currently running a controlled emergency department study to look at the relationship a little more closely,’ she says.
’Hopefully that will bring more answers. The research we’ve done so far points to an increased risk of injuries with the use of these drinks that could be a serious public health concern.
’Our hope is to conduct and facilitate future research in order to identify limitations and get a closer look at the topic to see what’s really going on.’