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Dr. Oz and Roizen: Energy drinks may boost heart attack, dementia, cancer risks

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You can find energy drinks everywhere, from convenience stores to health food cafes to vending machines. But are they safe? On Dec. 30, Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Mike Roizen issued a warning about the potentially life-threatening risks of these popular beverages.

As evidence of the dangers of energy drinks, the doctors revealed that "the number of emergency-room visits they cause has doubled in four years — in 2011, it hit more than 20,000" in the United States.

In a recent study, researchers used cardiac MRIs to determine how your heart reacts about an hour after you have an energy drink that contains the amino acid taurine (a popular ingredient in energy drinks). When the healthy volunteers sipped the energy drinks, the researchers discovered "significantly increased peak systolic strain in the left ventricle as the heart contracted and sent oxygenated blood throughout the body."

Who is at the highest risk from these beverages:

  • Anyone with a history of cardiac problems
  • Children and young people, whose heart muscles are still developing, are at the greatest risk from these drinks.

However, Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen, authors of "YOU: The Owner's Manual: An Insider's Guide to the Body That Will Make You Healthier and Younger," believe that more research is needed to determine the long-term effects. Among the potential risks of energy drinks:

  • Heart attack
  • stroke
  • dementia
  • impotence
  • cancer.

Therefore, the doctors recommend avoiding energy drinks that contain "amino acids" on the label. In addition, check the ingredient list and avoid those that contain lecithin, creatine, taurine, phenylalanine, citicoline, tyrosine or choline.

What to do when you need an energy boost? Try these tips:

  • Drink black coffee. If you make it at home, you can keep caffeine to 100-180 mg in a 12-ounce cup (daily totals should be around 300-600 mg).
  • Keep your energy level high all day by eating five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables.
  • Make a smoothie in a blender with fruits, veggies and ice.
  • Get more tips for energizing slimming snacks from Dr. Oz by clicking here.
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