Popular 5-hour Energy is linked to 13 deaths over three years


Mary Garcia

The negative effects of 5-hour Energy drinks can last for far longer than the boost of activity you feel.

Five-hour Energy drinks are currently the subject of a Food and Drug Administration investigation into reports that are linking the popular beverage to serious health complications, and in some cases death.

This information comes from a report titled, “Voluntary and Mandatory Reports on 5-hour Energy, Monster Energy, and Rockstar” released by the FDA on Nov. 15, which collects statistics from health filings related to energy drink use since 2004.

According to the report, 5-hour Energy may be involved with as many as 13 deaths and 36 hospitalizations over the last three years in the U.S. alone.

“There are immediate effects to drinking it [energy drinks], which are a rapid heart rate, a decrease in concentration, tremors, anxiety, fidgeting,”said Michelle Barkley, head nurse at Cosumnes River College. “With long term effects, those energy drinks artificially alter your heart rate, which is wearing down your body’s organs, especially the heart.”

The health reports also show a volley of health conditions that the energy drink may have caused or contributed to, ranging from abdominal pain and nausea to abnormal heart rate and convulsions.

Seeing many of these symptoms at the CRC health services center is not uncommon for Barkley.

“I get several students each semester that come in generally with symptoms of rapid heart rate, anxiety, and inability to concentrate,” Barkley said. “I see a wide range of student’s who come in with adverse effects from the energy drinks.”

“In one case, we actually had to call E.M.S. [Emergency Medical Services] because of a bad heart rate,” Barkley said.

At CRC, customers must pass the little red vials before buying anything in the cafeteria.

The student bookstore also has 5-hour Energy readily available.

Students drink energy drinks every day to help with studying or busy work schedules, and many have at least sampled 5-hour Energy.

“I probably shouldn’t have drank it,” said Angela Marcelino, a 20-year-old English literature major. “I had an exam I didn’t study for and I didn’t have any tea or coffee at my house so I went and bought a 5-hour Energy at the convenience store.”

The news of the FDA’s investigation has affected some student’s differently.

“It makes me feel like I’m definitely not going to drink them,” said Carrie Ehlers, a 24-year-old photography major.

Other students who have already snubbed 5 Hour Energy see the news as just another reason to avoid the energy drink.

“It makes me feel like I’m still not going to drink it,” said Clancy Taylor, a 19-year-old small businesses and management, entrepreneurship major. “Last time I had it, it was gross.”

While it may seem like an effective means for studying or staying energetic, there are many natural ways to keep the pep in your step.

“You never need 5-hour Energy as long as you’re getting enough sleep, you’re staying hydrated and you’re eating a well balanced diet,” Barkley said. “You’re going to have enough energy, enough concentration, you’re going to get those basic needs if you’re taking care of your basic needs.