It shouldn’t come as a total surprise that energy drinks aren’t good for you. They’ve been linked to deaths in the past and are known for having similar effects to cocaine. And now, in a new case study published by the British Medical Journal, more side effects of were discovered and it’s terrifying because they can destroy your liver.
The case study involved a 50-year-old construction worker who was drinking four to five energy drinks a day over the course of three weeks. He ended up developing acute hepatitis and experienced nausea, abdominal pain, and vomiting. Originally he thought it was the flu, but once his eyes and skin turned yellow, he went to the emergency room where they found he had a severe liver infection. As soon as he stopped binging on energy drinks, the symptoms went away.
Grub Street points out this is the second time taking energy drinks excessively has been tied to liver failure. In 2011, an otherwise healthy 22-year-old woman was diagnosed with acute hepatitis — she had admitted she was drinking 10 energy drink cans a day for two weeks.
In both cases, doctors say the high niacin (or vitamin B3) levels are what causes the liver damage, not so much the caffeine or other ingredients. According to the BMJ report, niacin is what causes liver damage.