Can 5-Hour Energy Kill?

The popular energy drink 5-Hour Energy has been linked to 13 deaths over the last few years, according to FDA records. Further is study is needed to parse out if the drink is doing the killing.

Lay off the sauce kids, the popular energy drink 5-Hour Energy has potential links to 13 deaths over the last four years, according to FDA records and a report by the New York Times. Monster Energy, another popular brain-rattler, has been linked to 5 deaths. 5-Hour Energy has been mentioned in 90 FDA filings since 2009, and they include heart attacks, convulsions (apparently more than just your standard “caffeine jitters”) and one spontaneous abortion.

5-Hour Energy drinks are sold as shots, and while they don’t disclose how much caffeine they contain, some reports put the number at 215mg, or about two cups of coffee. It also has high levels of B-vitamins (probably to back up a central marketing claim of 5-Hour Energy: that there is no crash after the 5 hours) and a common energy drink add-in called taurine. Combine all of that, then compress it into something that takes a few seconds to consume, and you have one powerful wallop.

If 13 deaths over a few years doesn’t seem particularly high, consider this: in 2010, the FDA received 17 death reports associated with “Dietary supplement or weight loss products,” a category that includes over 50,000 products, some of them fairly sketchy. Further investigations are needed to determine if there is a causal relationship between 5-Hour Energy and the 13 deaths. For now, here’s hoping that anyone who just downed the drink is especially productive in the next five hours.

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