Mixing alcoholic beverages with highly caffeinated energy drinks could be increasing the risk of falls and injury according to Canadian researchers.
A team from the University of Victoria's Centre for Addictions Research of BC (CARBC) looked at 13 studies on the topic of alcohol and energy drinks published from 1981 to 2016.
From the 13 studies that fit the criteria, 10 showed evidence of a link between drinking alcohol mixed with energy drinks (AmED) and an increased risk of injury compared to drinking alcohol only.
The study included both unintentional injuries such as falls or car accidents and intentional such as fights or other types of physical violence.
According to the researchers AmED use is increasingly popular across North America, with mixing a Red Bull and vodka a common example. These types of beverages can also be bought as premixed drinks from liquor stores.
Explaining the findings, lead study author Audra Roemer, M.Sc. said, "The stimulant effects of caffeine mask the result that most people get when they drink. Usually when you're drinking alcohol, you get tired and you go home. Energy drinks mask that, so people may underestimate how intoxicated they are, end up staying out later, consume more alcohol, and engage in risky behavior and more hazardous drinking practices."
Three of the studies also looked at whether risk-taking or sensation-seeking personality traits could also increase the risk of injuries when partaking in AmED use, with Roemer adding that, "We know that these are risk factors for alcohol-related injuries, and some research has suggested that people who have these traits might prefer the awake-drunk state that you get from mixing alcohol and energy drinks."
"This could be a population that's at even higher risk for injuries."
However, Roemer did point out that there is a lack of research in this area, and wide variability in the studies analyzed.
More research is now needed in order to confirm the team's findings, with Roemer adding that, "Hopefully that will bring more answers. The research we've done so far points to an increased risk of injuries with the use of AmED that could be a serious public health concern."
The results can be found published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.