5 Hour Energy – Is it Deadly?

By Emily Murray

As you are dragging your feet through Monday morning, perhaps you are craving a caffeine boost. Maybe your Monday go-to is the popular supplement 5 Hour Energy? Well according to new information, it has now been cited in 13 deaths and 33 hospitalizations during the past 4 years – statistics that now have the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) investigating the product.

This small 2 ounce drink (marketed as a “shot”) contains the same amount of caffeine as roughly two cups of coffee and for some, they don’t stop at just one container. This is when the real trouble can begin. And it’s not just 5 Hour Energy that has the FDA raising their eyebrows, the popular energy drink Monster also recently had 5 deaths filed in association with it as well.

Some of the most common side effects that have been filed in conjunction with 5 Hour Energy  include heart attacks, convulsions and one account of a spontaneous abortion (as mentioned in a NY Times article on the subject). One of the problems that the manufacturers have been quick to point out with these claims is that there is no real concrete evidence that the injuries or deaths were directly related to the consumers intake of their product. They still claim to be selling a safe energy product “intended for busy adults.”

In order to help avoid any complications in the future, many are calling for more strict regulation of the contents of all energy drinks including 5 Hour Energy. In fact, currently the manufactures don’t even disclose the exact amount of caffeine in their energy shot, which is just one reason that many feel that stricter regulation is necessary.

As it stands currently, there is no regulation that makes it mandatory for these companies to report any negative filings since they are dietary supplements and therefore are not closely regulated by the FDA.

According to the NY Times article, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported in 2009 that there were roughly 13,000 ER visits that were associated with energy drink consumption.

On the other hand, many medical professionals have said that for most adults, drinking enough caffeine to result in death is nearly impossible (one article mentioned that it would take nearly 50 to 60 times the amount of caffeine in most energy drinks to be lethal). However, what may cause trouble is that many  young adults or children may have diagnosed heart conditions or other underlying health conditions that might make the effects of the caffeine more dangerous or severe.

Since people are more likely to continue drinking something cold and refreshing faster than they would drink coffee, this may lead to more caffeine intake at a faster rate as well.