Close

Forgot your password?

Choose a newsletter




Premium access provided by ENSTA

Your premium access provided by ENSTA

Enter your email to begin

Premium access granted to you by NRC Q

You have been given free premium access to Worldcrunch for 8 weeks thanks to NRC Q.

Enter your email to begin

Premium access granted to you by EM-LYON

You have been given free premium access to Worldcrunch for 8 weeks thanks to EM-LYON.

Enter your email to begin

Premium access granted to you by Goldsmiths

You have been given free premium access to Worldcrunch for 8 weeks thanks to Goldsmiths.

Enter your email to begin

Premium access granted to you by WorldCrunch HQ

You have been given free premium access to Worldcrunch for 4 weeks thanks to WorldCrunch HQ.

Enter your email to begin

Premium access granted to you by MINES Alès

You have been given free premium access to Worldcrunch for 8 weeks thanks to MINES Alès.

Enter your email to begin

Premium access granted to you by ESCP Europe Alumni

You have been given free premium access to Worldcrunch for 8 weeks thanks to ESCP Europe Alumni.

Enter your email to begin

Premium access granted to you by IONIS Education Group

You have been given free premium access to Worldcrunch for 8 weeks thanks to IONIS Education Group.

Enter your email to begin

Premium access granted to you by MinnPost

You have been given free premium access to Worldcrunch for 6 months thanks to MinnPost.

Enter your email to begin

Premium access granted to you by Expatica

You've been given FREE premium access to Worldcrunch

Enter your email to begin

Worldcrunch

Red Bull - The Making Of An Explosive Cocktail

A favorite of both fitness nuts and party animals, Red Bull has some reported side-effects. Now people have started mixing energy drinks with alcohol, adding to the potential toxicity. France, one of the last countries to approve its sale, asks if its really OK.

Article illustrative image Partner logo Let's spend the night together (homard.net)

PARIS - Non-stop dancing, all night. For years, Jean-Christophe has been drinking Red Bull with vodka, five or six times per night.

This young IT consultant describes himself as a heavy consumer of Red Bull since he was 18 years old. Today he is 28 and drinks at least one can every night, “to be able to do 16 hours of computer programming a day.” Used with marijuana, “it creates a sort of 'trance.'” As a result, he can stay up until 5 or 6 in the morning.

Eric, a former salesman, used to drive 2,000 to 3,000 kilometers every week. Sick of drinking coffee, he decided to try energy drinks instead. Then he started drinking one to four every day from Wednesday to Friday. “It helped me keep my rhythm and push back my limits.” But one day he felt ill, with his legs going wobbly and an irregular heartbeat. That was three years ago, back when he was 27. His doctor attributed the problems to fatigue and stress. Several months later, he had another attack. “That time, I thought about my lifestyle and I hypothesized that energy drinks might be responsible. So I stopped drinking them, and I haven’t experienced cardiac arrhythmia since.”

Earlier this month, the French National Agency for Food Security (Anses) raised the alarm. Six cases of dangerous side effects (epilepsy, coma, tremors, anxiety) have been reported since 2009, including two deaths by cardiac arrest, for which the link with energy drinks is currently being evaluated. Since the Anses put out their alert, they “have been notified of six other occurrences which are currently being examined,” explains Professor Irène Margaritis, head of nutrition risk evaluation at the Anses.

Feeling good on the dance floor

Vodka-Red Bull is the fashionable cocktail in nightclubs and among young people. Red Bull but also Monster, Dark Dog, Burn and Frelon Detox are all available in supermarkets or sports clubs. They are favorites of partygoers and fitness experts, night workers and video game addicts. “My Monster is my second life,” says Emmanuel, a 21-year-old working student.

But like Eric, many of them have experienced undesirable side effects: heart problems for Emmanuel; slight dizziness, sweating, a heart that “beats so hard that I have a hard time recovering,” for Karim, a student from Marseilles. Others talk about temporary and unusual depressions, “crashing” after the effects of the drink wears off.

After a night out drinking four or five cans of Red Bull, Sophie was in great shape despite having slept only three hours. Her parents found her agitated - her father is a doctor - and were worried. But she wasn’t: “this drink helps me keep going. On weekends, you want to let go. After one or two cans, I really feel the difference on the dance floor.”

France was one of the last countries to approve the sale of these energy drinks. In 2001, the Anses had expressed doubts on their innocuousness. But Red Bull and analogous drinks were authorized for sale in May 2008 thanks to the Economy Ministry’s green light, and despite opposition from the Health Ministry.

“How many accidents will it take?” asks Doctor Laurent Chevallier, a nutritionist and member of the Health environment network. “These are not essential products. It is surprising the European Union hasn’t taken any action.”

Binge drinking

It is the alcohol-energy drink combination that worries the Anses the most. This explosive cocktail is associated with binge drinking, very popular among young people. “Teenagers use these energy drinks to drink more and longer,” explains psychiatrist Xavier Pommereau, head of the teenage department at Bordeaux’s hospital.

Because these drinks decrease the perception of alcohol’s effects, doctors strongly advise against mixing the two. “Scientists are currently studying the toxicity of taurine when it is associated with alcohol,” says Doctor Pommereau. In addition to taurine, these drinks contain “stimulating” ingredients such as caffeine, guarana, ginseng, vitamins or D-glucuronolactone (a potentially toxic substance).

But most young people believe “it isn’t as toxic as amphetamines or ecstasy,” says a Nantes public servant, for whom “the controversy around a few unproven cases is a real non-issue.” Some consume these drinks to stay awake and don’t see what’s wrong. “The real danger for young people is that they start drinking huge amounts of strong alcohols at an early age,” believes Paul, a 30-something Parisian.

“Since the beginning of the 2000s, there have been two new phenomenon: drinking alcohol at an increasingly young age, and binge drinking, especially for girls. I’ve seen 14-year-old girls with vodka bottles in their bag,” says doctor Pommereau. Out of the 15 patients in his unit, two are 12 years old.

Read more from Le Monde in French.

Photo - homard.net

Sign up for our weekly Global Biz & Innovation newsletter now


Be a part of the conversation. Click to show comments
About this article source Website: http://www.lemonde.fr/

This leading French daily newspaper Le Monde ("The World") was founded in December 1944 in the aftermath of World War II. Today, it is distributed in 120 countries. In late 2010, a trio formed by Pierre Berge, Xavier Niel and Matthieu Pigasse took a controlling 64.5% stake in the newspaper.

Worldcrunch brings top stories from the world's best news sources into English for the first time.

- Find out how we work
- Stay connected with our newsletter
- Try premium access for just $0.99

Want to get in touch or report a bug? Find us at info@worldcrunch.com

Load More Stories

Unlimited access to exclusive journalism, the best world news source across all your devices

Subscribe Now Photo of Worldcrunch on different devices

Your premium access to Worldcrunch is provided by

University of Central Lancashire

Please register to begin


By registering you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy.