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'Energy drinks' don't mitigate alcohol

'Energy drinks' don't mitigate alcohol

BOSTON, Jan. 13 (UPI) -- Caffeinated "energy" drinks that many believe offset the sedating effects of alcohol and increase alertness and stamina are ineffective, a U.S. study says.

Jonathan Howland, a professor at Boston University's School of Public Health, and colleagues at the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown University randomized 129 participants, ages 21-30, into four groups: one group that consumed caffeinated beer; a second that consumed non-caffeinated beer; a third that consumed caffeinated non-alcoholic beer; and a fourth that consumed non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic beer.

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Those receiving alcohol attained an average blood alcohol level of 0.12 percent -- somewhat higher than the legal limit of 0.08 percent for driving.

The study subjects were tested on a driving simulator 30 minutes after drinking.

The study, scheduled to be published in the journal Addiction, finds caffeine does not mitigate the impairment effects of alcohol. During the driving test, the effect of alcohol was significant, but caffeine did not make a noticeable difference. During the test for sustained attention and reaction times caffeine made only a slight difference that the study deemed "borderline significant."

"The results of this study suggest that public education, via media and warning labels, should be considered regarding the safety of caffeinated alcoholic beverages and that regulators should scrutinize energy drink and caffeinated alcoholic beverages advertising as it relates to promoting safety-related expectancies," Howland says in a statement.

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