Health Hazards of Energy Drinks

By Matt Porter

October 25, 2012 Updated Oct 25, 2012 at 6:25 PM EDT

Vestal, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The FDA confirmed this week they are investigating reports of five deaths and one non-fatal heart attack linked to the energy drink Monster since 2004.

The reports were first made public by Maryland attorney Kevin Goldberg who is suing the company for the death of a 14-year-old girl who consumed two 24 ounce cans in a 24 hour period before her death.

At Binghamton University, senior Robert Malay said he used to drink dozens of cans of Monster a week in high school.

"There were a couple weeks," said Malay, "I had four a day."

He said he added up the cost of the drinks he bought during his high school's junior year. He said he spent almost $3,000.

"It actually got to the point where I could feel my heart going a mile a minute in my chest," he said.

Now, the Binghamton University senior drinks one a day to keep up with his chemistry work.

Dr. Sanjiv Patel, an assistant professor at Upstate Medical University and family physician, warns any energy drink habit can be dangerous.

"We use these products and deprive our brains of sleep," said Patel, "Again, you're causing some potentially serious neurological complications."

Complications that can include heart irregularities, palpitations, and other more serious heart and brain injuries.

"These energy drinks should not be taken lightly," said Patel, "We're not consuming Coca-Cola, Pepsi, or Jolt Cola. We're consuming a product that contains an insurmountable amount of caffeine in them."

The amount of one 16 ounce can of Monster Energy Drink is almost as much as five cans of regular soda.

Binghamton University teaches students not rely on these highly caffeinated and highly marketed drinks.

They tell students the only way to recharge your body is a good night's sleep.

"Some of them say it's just like a cup of coffee and it's not," said Associate Director for Health Education Bridget McCane-Saunders, "Because there are additives to these drinks, that are not just caffeine, but are other products that are stimulants."

Saunders said energy drinks interrupt sleep causing irritability and restlessness that sometimes lead to behavioral problems.

Malay said he doesn't plan to drink these drinks forever. But with midterms looming, he's sticking to his habit.

"Hopefully I can kick it," he said, "Hopefully I can get to the point where maybe a Pepsi will keep me awake."

In response to the recent reports linking Monster Energy Drinks with the deaths of five people, Monster said it stands by it's products.

They've sold more than eight billion cans worldwide since 2002.