Health

Drinking This Cocktail Could Be Riskier than You Think

Combining energy drinks and alcohol could be a recipe for disaster according to new research from the University of Victoria

energy drinks and alcohol: an image of a cocktail in a glass.

(Image: Courtesy of University of Victoria)

There is now yet another reason to just say no to Jägerbombs.

Aside from tasting like liquid regret, researchers at the University of Victoria say alcohol and energy drinks could make for a surprisingly dangerous cocktail. Apparently, your risk of injury—both “intentional and accidental”—could be as much as 20 times greater when you down the potent mix together, compared to not drinking at all.

(FYI: the researchers define intentional injuries as fights, violence and attempted suicide, and accidental ones as falling, tripping and driving-related accidents.)

Energy drinks and alcohol: key findings 

The findings may not come as a shock—those vodka Red Bulls never promised to give you wings for good decision-making—but the university is toting PhD student Audra Roemer’s study as the first-ever comprehensive review on this topic.

As Roemer explains it, if you drink one or two rounds of alcoholic drinks, you’re twice as likely to get hurt compared to your usual sober state. By that logic, she says, if you drink six alcoholic drinks, your risk of injury increases six-fold.

But that ratio goes down the drain when energy drinks enter the mix. Roemer calls it a “surge response,” explaining that energy drinks mask the tiring effects of alcohol “so people may underestimate how intoxicated they are, end up staying out later, consume more alcohol and engage in risky behaviour and more hazardous drinking practices,” she says.

There’s no definitive word yet on the exact number of cocktails containing energy drinks that could contribute to the increase in injury-related risk. Roemer explains that that was one of the major limitations in the research. “We do not yet know if people are simply drinking more alcohol when also consuming energy drinks, or, if there are other factors at play,” she says. “My guess is that it is likely a bit of both.”

Related: 8 Celebrities Who Don’t Touch Weed (Or Anything Else)

Energy drinks typically contain around 80 to 100mg of caffeine—more than three times what is found in cola, but only half of the amount in a coffee of the same size. Many energy drink labels also state that they should not be mixed with alcohol.

While Roemer’s research is based on preliminary results from a small review sample, we expect to hear more from her soon. She’s digging deeper into this topic and currently analyzing alcohol-related emergency room visits in Vancouver and Victoria.

In the meantime, do yourself a favour and steer clear of Jägerbombs.

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