TORONTO, Sept. 16, 2015 – Teens who reported a
traumatic brain injury in the past year were seven times more likely to have consumed
at least five energy drinks in the past week than those without a history of
TBI, according to a study published today in PLOS ONE.
Researchers also found that teens who reported
sustaining a TBI within the past year were at least twice as likely to have consumed
energy drinks mixed with alcohol than teens who reported sustaining a TBI more
than a year previously.
“We’ve found a
link between increased brain injuries and the consumption of energy drinks or
energy drinks mixed with alcohol,” said Dr.
Michael Cusimano, a neurosurgeon at St. Michael’s Hospital.
“This is significant because energy drinks have previously been associated with
general injuries, but not specifically with TBI.”
Dr. Cusimano said energy drink consumption could
interfere with recovery efforts for teens who have sustained a TBI.
“Energy drinks, such a Red Bull and Rockstar, contain high levels of caffeine and change the
chemical state of the body, which can prevent people from getting back on track
after a TBI,” said Dr. Cusimano. “Brain
injuries among adolescents are particularly concerning because their brains are still developing.”
At a time when energy drink consumption is rising
among teens in Canada and the United States, the study also suggests that the
caffeinated drinks are particularly linked with those who play sports.
“I think that energy drinks appeal to teens,
especially athletes, because the drinks provide temporary benefits such as
increased alertness, improved mood and enhanced mental and physical states,”
said Dr. Cusimano. “Advertisements for the drinks also often feature prominent
Teens who reported suffering a TBI in
the past year while playing sports were twice as likely to consume energy
drinks as teens who reported a TBI from other injuries in the same time period.
Data for the study was collected by the Centre for
Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)’s 2013 Ontario Student Drug Use and HealthSurvey (OSDUHS). Approximately 10,000 students ages 11 to 20 participated in
the self-administered, in-classroom survey. TBI was defined as an injury
resulting in the loss of consciousness for at least five minutes, or being
hospitalized for at least one night.
“It is particularly
concerning to see that teens who report a recent TBI are also twice as likely
to report consuming energy drinks mixed with alcohol,” said Dr. Robert Mann, senior scientist at CAMH in
Toronto and director of the OSDUHS. “While we cannot say this link is causal,
it’s a behaviour that could cause further injury and
so we should be looking at this relationship closely in future research.”
About 22 per cent of all students surveyed reported
they’d experienced a TBI, with sports injuries accounting for almost half of
TBI cases experienced in the past year.
Previous research at St. Michael’s Hospital found
that TBI is associated with poor academic performance, mental health issues, violence,
substance abuse and aggression in both teens and adults -- factors that can
interfere with rehabilitation, said Dr. Cusimano.
According to the new study, a better understanding
of the link between TBI and energy drinks could help medical professionals,
parents, teachers and coaches understand how to better prevent, diagnose and
treat brain injuries.
This work was funded by
a Team Grant from Canadian Institutes of Health Research and by funds from the
Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation, AUTO21 and the
Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
St. Michael’s Hospital
St. Michael’s Hospital
provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also
provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in
more than 23 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease,
neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, and care of the homeless are among the hospital’s
recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare
Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St.
Michael’s Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded
in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.
For more information, or to arrange an interview with Dr. Cusimano,
Corinne Ton That
Communications and Public Affairs
St. Michael's Hospital
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The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is
Canada's largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital and a world
leading research centres in this field. CAMH combines
clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to
help transform the lives of people affected by mental illness and addiction.
CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American
Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre. For more
information, please visit www.camh.ca
To arrange an interview with Dr.
Robert Mann, please contact:
Kate Richards, Media Relations Specialist
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
416-535-8501 ext. 36015