The serious reason you should reconsider your next energy drink

Uh oh, I have bad news for those of you who crack open a Monster or a Red Bull before a long night of studying: It could actually be hurting your brain. Now, those of you currently holding a half-finished Rockstar need not freak out. The drink doesn’t directly hurt your brain, but a study in Canada has found that teens who consume energy drinks were much more likely to experience a TBI, or a traumatic brain injury, than those who do not.

A traumatic brain injury is when you’ve been hit in the head so hard that you’re unconscious for over five minutes, or have to spend the night in the hospital. It’s not fun, and the effects of the injury can be permanent. It’s definitely not something to mess around with, so where do energy drinks come in?

In the study, researchers surveyed more than 10,000 middle and high school students between the ages of 11 and 20. They found that 22% of those surveyed had experienced a TBI. They were able to link that number with energy drink consumption. In fact, teens who had drank an energy drink the past week were five times more likely to have had a TBI than those who hadn’t.

This could be misleading. Drinking Red Bull doesn’t mean you’re more likely to fall down, or that large soccer balls are more attracted to your head. It’s likely due to other factors. For instance, if you’re very active, playing a lot of sports and running around, you’re probably more likely to drink Red Bull than someone who isn’t. You’re also more likely to get injured, and there’s your correlation.

The only direct affect that energy drinks definitely have on TBIs is when it comes to recovery. Neurosurgeon Michael Cusimano explains:

Also, energy drinks just aren’t good for you, and this isn’t the only health problem they’ve been associated with. It can effect your heart, your cognition, and things later down the line, like a tendency towards drug abuse. While drinking one every now and again when you desperately need to finish reading a chapter in your textbook is okay, the most effective way to be alert and active is to eat well and get a good amount of sleep. And who doesn’t like eating and sleeping?

(Image via Twin Design /

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