In response to “The Effect of Energy Drinks on the Urge to Drink Alcohol in Young Adults,” a study to be published in the August issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, the Canadian Beverage Association issued the following statement:
As acknowledged by the authors, this Australian study does not establish any link between energy drink consumption and increased alcohol consumption. It only measures how people feel and not what they actually do.
While the balance of scientific evidence does not support a link between energy drinks contributing to the intoxicating effects of alcohol or that energy drinks counteract intoxication[i], the Canadian Beverage Association and its members do not promote mixing energy drinks with alcohol. Health Canada requires that energy drink labels have a statement indicating that they are not recommended to be mixed with alcohol.
The United Kingdom’s Committee on Toxicology (COT), an independent committee of experts that provides advice to agencies such as the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA), conducted an in-depth review of alcohol and caffeine. In December 2012, COT published their report which concluded that “the current balance of evidence does not support a harmful toxicological or behavioral interaction between caffeine and alcohol.”
On the Study:
- This is a non-crossover study design which increases risk of confounding factors. The researchers tested `participants’ reaction to two completely different drinks.
- The authors of this Australian study of 75 participants aged 18 to 30 years asked the subjects about their desire to consume alcohol using a questionnaire that may have simply reflected preference, but this neither measured nor reflected their alcohol consumption patterns.
- The authors state in a press release promoting their paper: “What we can’t say is whether [their findings] translates into people drinking more. Obviously other factors would play a role there…”
- The authors also conclude that their findings do not show that consumption of energy drinks alone encourages misuse of alcohol in any way and “did not find any significant effect of energy drinks on the stimulant and sedative ratings of intoxication.”
- The authors also stated that a limitation of the study is that they did not attempt to constrain blood alcohol concentrations by adjusting alcohol dose for body weight and gender. Thus, there are unmeasured factors that would impact alcohol metabolism. Importantly, the authors also conclude that “more research is needed.”