In a commentary published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers at the University of Maryland School of Public Health and Wake Forest University School of Medicine recommend healthcare professionals should inform their patients of the risks of consuming highly caffeinated energy drinks and people should educate themselves about those risks.
Energy-drink manufacturers should warn consumers about the risks of mixing their products with alcohol and regulatory agencies should require the manufacturers to disclose caffeine content and appropriate warnings about the risks on the labels, the commentary says.
"Individuals can still mix these highly caffeinated energy drinks with alcohol on their own. It is also concerning that no regulation exists with regard to the level of caffeine that can be in an energy drink," Amelia Arria and Mary Claire O'Brien say in a statement.
"The practice of mixing energy drinks with alcohol -- which is more widespread than generally recognized -- has been linked consistently to drinking high volumes of alcohol per drinking session and subsequent serious alcohol-related consequences such as sexual assault and driving while intoxicated."
Caffeine can have adverse health effects in some individuals. Energy drinks appear to be associated with alcohol dependence and other drug use, and more research is needed, the researchers say.