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Energy Drinks Affect Heart, MRI Scans Show

Small, early study found contraction rate sped up after people downed beverage

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The American Beverage Association responded to the study with a prepared statement.

"The fact remains that most mainstream energy drinks contain only about half the caffeine of a similar size cup of coffeehouse coffee," the industry group said. "Caffeine is a safe ingredient and is consumed every day in a wide variety of foods and beverages, including energy drinks which have been enjoyed safely by millions of people for nearly three decades. Also, this paper, which looks at only 18 adults, has not been peer-reviewed or published."

Doerner was reluctant to speculate on potential damage to the heart that could result from long-term energy drink consumption, given that his study focused only on short-term effects.

"We have shown that even small amounts of energy drinks alters heart function," he said. "Because of that, further investigation needs to be done to address concerns regarding long term effects on kids and long-term effects on people with heart disease."

However, Doerner did advise that children and people who have an irregular heart beat should avoid energy drinks until more study is done.

Cardiology professor Williams agreed that further research is needed, adding that these results need to be followed up.

"Without data, one can only speculate," he said. "If you speculate on existing drugs that have that effect, it would be cause for concern."

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