Energy Drinks Linked to Liver Damage

According to recent information published in BMJ Case Reports, a previously-healthy 50-year-old man developed acute hepatitis after consuming four or five energy drinks a day for three weeks. The liver damage occurred as a result of excessive vitamin B3 (niacin) levels.

The man, who developed the energy drink habit while work long hours in construction, first experienced malaise and appetite loss and then nausea and vomiting. He sought medical attention when he developed yellowed skin and dark-colored urine—classic signs of hepatitis. A medical exam and diagnostic tests revealed upper abdominal tenderness and elevated liver enzymes. Liver biopsy confirmed the diagnosis.

The man didn't report any other changes in diet or alcohol, tobacco, or illicit drug use—suggesting the energy drinks as the cause for the liver inflammation. Each bottle of energy drink contained 40 milligrams of niacin—200 percent of the daily recommended value. Previous studies have also linked hepatitis to energy drinks. The man cited in this study is currently managing his symptoms and has been advised to avoid energy drinks and similar products that contain niacin.

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