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Energy drinks linked to risky behavior

BUFFALO, N.Y., July 28 (UPI) -- Energy drink consumption is correlated with substance use, unsafe sexual activity and several other forms of risk-taking, a U.S. researcher says.

A study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found frequent energy drink consumers -- those who consumer such drinks six or more days a month -- were approximately three times as likely than less-frequent energy drink consumers or non-consumers to have smoked cigarettes, abused prescription drugs and been in a serious physical fight in the year prior to the survey.

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Study leader Kathleen E. Miller of the University at Buffalo's Research Institute on Addictions said energy drinks typically contain three times the caffeine of a soft drink, and in some cases, up to 10 times as much.

Frequent energy drink consumers also report drinking alcohol, having alcohol-related problems and using marijuana about twice as often as non-consumers of energy drinks. They were also more likely to engage in unsafe sex.

Almost 800 Buffalo-area male and female undergraduate students participated in the study, with 39 percent reporting they had consumed at least one energy drink in the previous month.

Two-thirds of the energy drink consumers had used energy drinks as mixers with alcoholic beverages.

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"It is widely, but incorrectly, believed that the caffeine in energy drinks counteracts the effects of alcohol," Miller said.

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