Image above from NY Post
A 21 year old student in England dropped out of school when his dentist found a mouth full of rotten teeth due to his energy drink habit.
Vinnie Pyner of Margate, England, told SWNS that he would drink 6 cans of Monster Energy drinks a day to get through school. Eventually his teeth cracked and when he finally showed his mom, she rushed him to the dentist who said it was the worst case of tooth decay she had ever seen.
FOX News reported he had 24 filings and dentures to repair his front teeth and will soon return to college.
Teeth can rot easily when exposed to energy drinks due to their acidity and sugar content. The protective enamel gets eroded and is irreplacible. Moreover people may choose these drinks over healthier options such as water or milk, putting them at higher risk of dental disease.
Years ago, Demi Moore confessed on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon that she lost two of her teeth. The 56 year-old actress cited stress as the reason.
Stress could be a factor, however, that would mean all of us would lose our teeth before senior year high school.
What came to mind was a previous report on Moore’s diet.
In 2012, the actress was hospitalized and multiple rumors surfaced as to what caused her collapse. Some reported an energy drink addiction, some cited anorexia, some said it occurred after inhaling the gas from a whip cream canister. Witnesses reported seizure like activity. According to Daily Mail,
A source told Radar: “She collapsed after having an epileptic seizure… she has not taken care of her health at all lately and has lost a ton of weight.” “Demi is in getting treated for anorexia, as well as other issues that caused her seizure.”
After she recovered, it was revealed that her diet included: “Red Bull for breakfast. Red Bull for lunch. Red Bull for dinner, with a lettuce leaf and a tablespoon yes a tablespoon of tuna fish thrown in… That’s it.” as reported by Light987.com.
According to Medical Daily, Moore had been drinking energy drinks for over 10 years.
Three energy drinks a day in the company of a poor diet could wreck havoc on one’s health. But what about teeth?
In 2012 a study from the Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine found the acidity of energy drinks to damage tooth enamel, thereby increasing risk of cavities.
Earlier this year, a 28 year old man from New Zealand, who allegedly drank three cans of energy drinks a day, lost multiple teeth and suffered from severe gum disease.
JOSH MCKEE AND HIS XRAY DEMONSTRATING MULTIPLE TEETH LOST/MARION VAN DIJK
Energy drinks provide little in the type of nutrition gums and teeth require. Our jaws, gums and teeth were designed to chew, face a variety of forces, and then get washed down with water and our own saliva to avoid damage from non-neutral pH compounds. A balanced diet, with food we need to chew, low on sugar and acidity is just what the human mouth needs.
Other causes of teeth loss (edentulism) include:
- Poor dental hygiene
- Periodontal (gum) disease
- Heart Disease
So not only is it important to brush, floss, water pick and see one’s dentist regularly, but taking care of one’s non-dental health can be just as crucial to keeping our pearly whites.
A study from the University of Texas finds the consumption of energy drinks to have negative effects on the cardiovascular system by narrowing blood vessels that carry oxygenated blood as soon as 90 minutes.
Vessels that supply the heart, which may already be narrowed due to atherosclerosis, could narrow even more.
Moreover the restriction of blood flow to vital organs implies the brain may not receive the optimal circulation it needs.
How dangerous are energy drinks?
The study was conducted by scientists who looked at the endothelial lining of blood vessels in 44 healthy non-smoking students and found within 90 minutes of drinking a 24 oz energy drink the vessel dilation dropped from 5.1% in diameter to 2.8% in diameter.
Now energy drinks contain various levels of caffeine, as explained below. But they also contain taurine, sugar, vitamins and other ingredients. This study did not look specifically at caffeine but energy drinks, so the authors can’t specify what’s the culprit.
Demi Moore – Maybe Energy Drinks Caused her Tooth Loss
Last year, however, a South Carolina high school student collapsed in class and later died from allegedly consuming an energy drink. The coroner’s report, revealed cited caffeine as the cause. The caffeine induced a cardiac arrhythmia, abnormal heart rhythm, and 16-year old Davis Allen Cripe tragically died within an hour.
What’s shocking is the amount of caffeine he ingested was not very high. According to Richland County Coroner Gary Watts, Cripe drank, within a two-hour period, a large Mountain Dew, an energy drink, and a cafe latte from McDonalds. The teen had no medical problems or family history of heart issues.
A large Mountain Dew contains 54 mg per 12 fluid oz. So a 20 oz drink would be close to 100 mg caffeine.
Energy drinks, depending on the brand, contain approximately 80 mg of caffeine per can.
A cafe latte from McDonalds, medium size, contains 142 mg of caffeine.
This in total would equal approximately 320 mg of caffeine ingested within a two-hour period.
The lethal dose of caffeine in adults range from 150-200 mg/ kg body weight. So a 70 kg adult could consume a toxic level of caffeine at 10 grams (10,000 mg).
So 320 mg of caffeine is well below the toxic level. But what caffeine could do could be the more dangerous part.
Caffeine has been known to induce arrhythmias. It’s a stimulant, hence it can affect the heart’s electrical conductivity that manages the organ’s pumping action. Once the electricity is disrupted, the heart muscle fails to have a predictable, rhythmic stimulation, hence cannot pump effectively.
Caffeine also causes vasoconstriction, so blood flow to the heart could be compromised, potentially inducing a heart attack.
In 2014, researchers from Barcelona found energy drinks to be linked to rare cases of heart attack and arrhythmia.
A cup of coffee averages 95mg of caffeine whereas an energy drink contains 80mg. But the latter is consumed much quicker than a hot cup of Joe that needs to be sipped, hence the consumer takes in a larger load of caffeine in a shorter amount of time. This could be too much too fast for the heart.
The following is a chart of average caffeine content in common drinks:
IMAGE FROM BUSINESS INSIDER
IN 2016 we learned that a 50-year old man with hepatitis C went into acute liver failure after drinking 4-5 energy drinks a day for a period of a three weeks. The culprit appeared to be the Niacin content in each energy drink (200%RDA) that accumulated over the days and became toxic to the liver. Although this is the first time we’ve heard of this severe a hepatic side effect, energy drinks are not foreign to being hazardous to one’s health.
So what’s in an energy drink?
Depending on the brand, ingredients can include the following:
Sugars such as sucrose, glucose or high fructose corn syrup
Guarana extract- an energy supplement also high in caffeine
Taurine – an amino acid that has health benefits but could strain the kidney
Vitamins B 2, 3, 6 and 12 (and Vitamin A and C in some brands)
and multiple other ingredients and additives (Ginkgo Biloba, Ginseng, etc. depending on the brand)
Why are energy drinks dangerous?
Energy drinks have been known to cause a variety of issues: anxiety, insomnia, restlessness, caffeine withdrawal, a rise in blood sugar…. to name a few.
However the focus of energy drink risks has been on the heart. One study from the Mayo Clinic found blood pressure and adrenaline to rise after drinking an energy drink. In 2011 a case report looked at two teenage boys who went into atrial fibrillation, a deadly heart rhythm. In 2015, doctors blamed energy drinks for a 25 year old man’s heart attack.
We’ve learned that caffeine, though innocent-appearing in coffee and tea, can be deadly not only as a result of quantity but the administration of it. A cup of coffee may have the same amount of caffeine as an energy drink (assuming the Guarana extract isn’t adding more to the total caffeine dose). But a hot cup of coffee is sipped slowly, whereas an energy drink served cold or at room temperature is usually chugged. The huge bolus of caffeine may be too quick-too-much for the body to digest and distribute slowly.
The high sugar content of energy drinks could put one at risk of diabetes. And with the recent case of acute liver failure, we are reminded that ingredients of energy drinks could at high doses cause hepatitis (inflammation of the liver).
Additionally, this week we learned that mixing alcohol with energy drinks, a popular party ritual, caused brain changes in mice similar to those caused by cocaine.
I can’t convince everyone to reach for a piece of broccoli rather than an energy drink when in need of a boost, but at the very least we should deter use by children and teens, and educate those with vulnerable hearts, blood pressure, diabetes, kidney and liver issues that an energy drink may not be the wisest beverage choice.
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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician