Saturday, April 08, 2006

Scientists Say - Add Some Red Bull To Your Vodka

A recent study results show that drinking alcohol and energy drinks together significantly reduces the perception of headache, weakness, dry mouth and impairment of motor coordination. Energy drinks do not, however, significantly reduce alcohol-related deficits on objective measures of motor coordination and visual reaction time, which suggests that people who combine alcohol with energy drinks may be at even greater risk for problems such as automobile accidents because they believe they are unimpaired.

The combined use of alcohol and "energy drinks" such as Red Bull have become increasingly popular among youth and young adults in recent years. Users often report reduced sleepiness and increased sensations of pleasure. In the April issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, Brazilian researchers conduct the first controlled scientific study on the effects of combining alcohol with Red Bull. Results show a considerable disconnect between subjects' perceptions and objective measures of their abilities: although combined use reduces the sensation of tiredness and sleepiness, actual capabilities are significantly impaired.

"In Brazil, as in other countries, young people believe that Red Bull and other energy drinks avoid the sleepiness caused by alcoholic beverages and increase their capacity to dance all night," explained Maria Lucia O. Souza-Formigoni, associate professor in the department of psychobiology at the Federal University of São Paulo in Brazil and corresponding author for the study. "In fact, many night clubs offer this mix among their cocktails."

In a previous study on the use of energy drinks among Brazilians, Souza-Formigoni said that users reported greater happiness (38 percent), euphoria (30 percent), uninhibited behavior (27 percent), and increased physical vigor (24 percent). It is unclear, however, if this indicates the ability of energy drinks to reduce the depressant effects, increase the excitatory effects of alcohol, or both.

For the current study, participants (n=26 males) were randomly assigned to one of two groups that received either 0.6 g/kg of alcohol (n=12), or 1.0 g/kg of alcohol (n=14). All participants completed three experimental sessions in random order, seven days apart: ingesting alcohol alone, energy drink alone, or alcohol and energy drink combined. At each session, researchers recorded the participants' subjective sensations of intoxication, as well as objective measures of their motor coordination, breath alcohol concentration, and visual reaction time.

Compared to the ingestion of alcohol alone, the combined ingestion of alcohol and Red Bull significantly reduced the subjects' perception of headache, weakness, dry mouth and impairment of motor coordination. Red Bull did not, however, significantly reduce deficits caused by alcohol on objective measures of motor coordination and visual reaction time.

The scientists spoke of the need for further studies to test higher doses of both alcohol and energy drinks, which Souza-Formigoni is doing with the use of animal models. "We are also testing separately the different substances of energy drinks – caffeine, taurine, etc. – in combination with alcohol to determine which of them are responsible for [for what effects during] interaction."

(Source – SperoNews)

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