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Study: Caffeine and alcohol are dangerous mix

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Alcohol and energy drinks and the mixing of these two is a risky choice according to a new study which examines the impact of mixing

Published in the current issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health, the study was conducted by Megan Patrick of the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research and Jennifer Maggs of Penn State University.

"We found that college students tended to drink more heavily and become more intoxicated on days they used both energy drinks and alcohol, compared to days they only used alcohol," said Patrick, lead author of the study.

While mixed drinks such as vodka and Red Bull and Jäger bombs, are popular orders in bars, it is no longer allowable in the United States for manufacturers to premix high-caffeine products with alcohol,

According to the research the public health implications include consequences ranging from blacking out and alcohol poisoning. Caffeine and alcohol do not make good bed-fellows

Data from on 652 college students over a period of four semesters was analyzed during four two-week periods. The students answered questions every day about their consumption of energy drinks and alcohol, and about any negative consequences they experienced as a result.

"Our findings suggest that the use of energy drinks and alcohol together may lead to heavier drinking and more serious alcohol-related problems," Patrick said. "As energy drinks become more and more popular, we should think about prevention strategies for reducing the negative consequences of using energy drinks and of combining energy drinks with alcohol."

The body is affected by alcohol the same whether caffeine is present or not. Where it gets dicey is when caffeine is consumed there is less awareness of the affects of alcohol. A 2006 study from the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research found that those who consumed energy drinks with alcohol had less dry mouth and headache than those who drank only alcohol.

On the surface this sounds like a ringing endorsement to combine the two, but those symptoms serve as a warning that too much alcohol may have already been consumed. Those who combined the two also thought their motor coordination was better than it actually was, leading to more instances of people getting behind the wheel when they should in fact be calling a cab.

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