Did the ‘5-Hour Energy Drink’ kill 13 people or could there be more to the story?
If you recall, a few years ago a “Natural Energy” drink made headline news! Per the San Francisco Chronicle:
“5-Hour Energy Drink Named in 13 Death Reports Made to U.S. FDA”
“The Energy shot, distributed by closely held Living Essentials LLC, has been associated with 92 adverse event reports in that time, including 32 hospitalizations, Shelly Burgess, an FDA spokeswoman, said yesterday in a telephone interview. The death reports are open cases being investigated by the FDA, she said.”
The Huffington Post remarked:
“FDA spokeswoman Shelly Burgess said that 5-hour Energy, sold by Living Essentials, has been mentioned in some 90 FDA filings since 2009, including more than 30 that involved serious or life-threatening events like heart attacks, convulsions, and in one case, a spontaneous abortion, the New York Times reported.”
And on MSNBC, it was stated that in some of the serious cases related to the “Energy” drink; more than 30 shots were consumed! Now, since each Energy shot contains as much caffeine as two cups of coffee that is the equivalent of drinking 60 cups of coffee. I think it’s fair to say that if you or I drank 60 cups of coffee, or more realistically 10 cups of coffee, we’d be feeling mighty odd, to say the least.
Now don’t get me wrong, any death without a doubt is a tragedy, but one has to ask…What is causing this abusive unhealthy behavior?
In today’s culture, we have become transfixed on anything that can make us feel something as fast as possible, and for the most part, we have the medical system to blame for it.
For example, there are countless ads on TV marketing prescription sleeping pills, anti-depressants, and even ads for more powerful anti-depressants… just in case your regular anti-depressant isn’t working. Then, is the popular ‘Larry the Cable Guy’ with his powerful words of “health wisdom” marketing anti-heartburn medicine. After all, who has the time to change their poor diet habits when a little pill will “fix” their uncomfortable burn – instantly!
Just a few short years ago (1980’s), when I was in high school, it was unusual to see kids drinking coffee. Although coke-cola was the drink of choice, there just wasn’t that fixation on the caffeine high as today. Of course, back then it was rare for kids to take the medications that have become status quo among most of the youth today. Now kids are given drugs to sleep, to calm them down, to make them active, and more recently, even more drugs for new diseases and conditions such as restless legs syndrome, chronic headache syndrome, ADHD, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Is it any wonder that these same kids would be drawn to the marketing of a quick energy fix? And if one shot gives them Energy, then of course 30 will be even better!
The sad irony to all of this is the so-called connection between these Energy drinks to vitamins. It is true that the 5- hour Energy shot also has B-vitamins in it, and it is also true that B vitamins can give you Energy – but not the type of high that is produced with these levels of caffeine. If these drinks were sold minus the caffeine, not only would they then be a truly healthy shot of natural energy; the shot would also be benign with zero potential dangerous side-effects. Of course, you’d barely notice the boost in energy compared to the effects of caffeine, so the product simply wouldn’t make the profits that the drink currently does.
It seems that anytime the FDA can relate the word “Vitamin” to danger, it is their job to drive that message to the public.
Whether it is true is beside the point.
Furthermore, what of the responsible adults who use these “Energy” shots as an alternative to coffee, and use the product as intended? Should they be denied this product in lieu of those who abuse it?
Obviously I am not trying to understate the tragedy of any deaths, but when you step back and look at the bigger picture, a hypocritical contradiction is apparent. For example:
Over 100, 000 people die per year due to overdosing from too much aspirin. The typical dosage of aspirin is 2 pills… and each pill contains the same amount of caffeine as 1 cup of coffee. Sound familiar? Why don’t those 100, 000 deaths per year spark headline news and FDA investigations? Why isn’t aspirin banned and removed from every shelf and in every store across the country?
Or let’s get to the real culprit – coffee itself! Maybe it should be required for IDs to be checked at Starbucks (and other coffee houses), and perhaps they should also limit the amount of coffee per person.
Of course, none of this will happen (at least I hope not!) because people are supposed to use the product as directed per the instructions of use. And it is no different with these Energy drinks.
But sadly, other Energy drinks are also highly abused such as Monster and Jolt. Some clever people even created bar drinks out of them; combining these “stimulate” drinks with alcohol.
The bottom line, these headlines are deceptive. In fact, to prove that point I used a similar headline to get your attention. But I proved in this article, that headlines don’t tell the whole story and sometimes they are a flat out lie! And that in and of itself is a crime!
Well, the Pareto Principle (80/20 rule) seems to still govern what we can and cannot do. And the government along with the FDA are the first in line to dictate and enforce that rule.
Rest assured, since these Energy drinks are so dangerous, I’m sure your friendly neighborhood doctor has just the right “safe” prescription drug (no extra cost for side-effects) for you to take to give you that energy boost you’re looking for!