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Killer Caffeine: Monster Energy Drink Linked to 5 Deaths

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Photo via homard.net on Flickr
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It might be time to rethink your pre-gaming rituals, bro. According to information recently released by the FDA, Monster energy drinks have been linked to five deaths and one heart attack.

The information was obtained by the mother of a 14-year-old Maryland girl who died in December from a heart arrhythmia after drinking large cans of Monster Energy on two consecutive days.

Says the New York Times:

"Last week, Wendy Crossland, the mother of that teenager, filed a lawsuit against Monster Beverage [Corp.], a publicly traded company in Corona, Calif., that used to be known as Hansen Natural. The lawsuit charges that Monster failed to warn about the risks of its energy drinks; a spokeswoman for the company said last week that its products were safe and not the cause of the teenager’s death...Monster Beverage’s stock ended the day down more than 14 percent after the F.D.A. filings were reported."
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The reports from the FDA do not specify if alcohol or other drugs were involved in the incidents. But according to the Department of Health and Human Services, emergency room visits resulting from energy drink use rose tenfold from 2005 to 2008. Half of the patients ages 18 to 25 had used alcohol or other substances with the energy drinks.

Considering all of the hullabaloo surrounding the importance of labeling potentially dangerous foods like GMOs,energy drinks like Monster and Red Bull will likely be on the receiving end of increased pressure to start carrying warning labels, too.

Earlier this summer, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman started investigating whether energy drink companies are violating federal law by promoting the beverages as dietary supplements instead of cans of liquid speed. And Illinois Senator Dick Durbin also asked the Food and Drug Administration to investigate the health effects of energy drinks like Monster and Red Bull after the Maryland girl's Monster-related death.

Of course, the American Beverage Association points out that consumers can make informed decisions for themselves by reading the caffeine content on the back of the cans. But the reality is that cans of Monster or 5-Hour-Energy don't tell you exactly how much caffeine is in the product. And they certainly don't carry morbid warning labels like cigarettes detailing the potential hazards detailed by the FDA.

In the meantime, if you're looking to fuel an all-night bender, stick with the green tea. You might look like a hippie, but it's better than the alternative.