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Can energy drinks cause hepatitis?

03 November 2016

In a weird case Florida doctors describe in the British Medical Journal, the 50-year-old man started gulping down energy drinks on the job but suddenly began vomiting after about three weeks.

To start with the patient thought he was battling a bout of flu. He was alarmed when his urine turned a dark color and his eyes and skin yellowed, both signs of hepatitis, according to the report. Although energy drinks are often perceived as harmless, a new case report links the beverages to liver damage, after a previously healthy man developed hepatitis from consuming too many.

Blood tests showed elevated liver enzymes indicating liver damage, and a liver biopsy confirmed the man had acute hepatitis, reported the doctors from the University of Florida College of Medicine, in Gainesville, Florida.

The doctors said the most likely cause of his hepatitis was an overdose of vitamin B3, known as niacin, which is found in high concentrations in energy drinks.

He didn't note any changes in his diet or use of alcohol, tobacco, or illicit drugs, apart from consuming energy drinks.

"Physical examination revealed jaundice and right upper quadrant abdominal tenderness".

"We hope patients will be educated about the potential risks of energy drink overconsumption, and thus, many unnecessary liver injuries will be prevented", the study reads.

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When Chase was young, Coleman and her husband had tried enrolling him in camps for soccer, baseball, flag football, basketball. The man reportedly said his auto had recently been broken into, which was what he was thinking about when he pushed Chase.

It comes a 50-year-old man was diagnosed with the disease after drinking five of the drinks a day, for three weeks. Each bottle he drank contained 40 milligrams of niacin - double the recommended daily value. The patient didn't take any prescription medicines in the past days, didn't receive blood transfusions, and never had high-risk sexual relations, which completes all the general causes that produce hepatitis.

Laboratory testing revealed that the patient had an underlying chronic hepatitis C, or HCV, infection, but the researchers found that the virus was not the cause of his acute hepatitis.

The patient was treated with close observation, frequent monitoring, and symptom management.

In the United States, about half of cases of acute liver failure are caused by drugs, herbs or nutritional supplements, say the authors of the article.

"As the energy drink market continues to rapidly expand, consumers should be aware of the potential risks of their various ingredients", authors wrote in the study.

According to Gizmodo, Monster, Rockstar and Red Bull energy drinks contain high levels of niacin.

Estimates suggest around 23,000 emergency department visits each year are due to adverse events related to dietary supplements. While vitamins and nutrients such as niacin content are present in large quantities, it is seemingly considered by many experts as the primary contributor to the hazards of toxicity and harmful accumulation of such component considering the excessive intake of these beverages.

Can energy drinks cause hepatitis?