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Energy Drinks: Caffeine Content continued...

In comparison, according to Griffiths:

  • Brewed coffee: 200 milligrams per 12-oz serving
  • Instant coffee: 140 mg per 12-oz serving
  • Brewed tea: 80 mg per 12-oz serving
  • Mountain Dew: 54 mg per 12 oz. serving
  • Dr. Pepper: 41 mg per 12-oz serving
  • Pepsi Cola: 38 mg per 12-oz serving
  • Coca-Cola Classic: 34.5 mg per 12-oz serving
  • Canned or bottled tea: 20 mg per 12-oz serving

Some of the energy drinks have lower caffeine contents, Griffith says. Among the lower doses:

  • Bomba Energy has 75 mg per 8.4-oz serving
  • Whoop Ass has 50 mg per 8.5-oz serving

Energy Drinks: The Report

Energy drinks are popular with teens and young adults, Griffiths found in his research. In a 2007 survey of 496 college students, 51% said they had consumed at least one energy drink during the past month.

Bad reactions to energy drinks have been reported to U.S. poison control centers, Griffiths writes in the report, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. From 2002 to 2004, he says, 41 cases of caffeine abuse from caffeine-enhanced beverages were reported.

In a report of nine cases of adverse reactions to the energy drink Redline, the patients reported nausea and vomiting, high blood pressure, tremors, dizziness, and numbness.

Data also suggest those who drink the energy drinks may combine them with alcohol, Griffiths tells WebMD. In the college student survey, 27% said they mixed alcohol and energy drinks at least once in the past month. One danger to that: Users may feel alert enough to drive, even if they are inebriated.

Griffiths worries that the energy drinks are sometimes "gateways" to use of other substances. In one study, college students who used energy drinks were more likely to later use stimulants for recreational use, he says.

Energy Drinks: Industry View

Storey, of the American Beverage Association, took exception with Griffiths' view. "It's a review, not a study," she says of his report. "We need to be careful about taking too much out of one review. He looked at some studies."

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