A man walks into his doctor and says, “Hello, I have been feeling tired lately, then I started getting nauseous and vomiting. Then I began to get jaundiced and my urine turned dark. Now I believe my liver is exploding. Doctor, what could be the cause?” The doctor, following a careful examination, asks if the man has undergone any dramatic changes lately. Perhaps a life change, or something in his diet? The patient has nothing to report, except that for the previous three weeks he’s been fueling himself with a hellish cocktail of four to five energy drinks per day.
The British Medical Journal reports that the cause of this man’s pain was an astronomical increase in vitamin B3—which often shows up on energy drinks’ cans as niacin—which in his case had resulted acute hepatitis. It’s unclear which of the neon-colored fantasia of possible energy drinks the 50-year-old construction worker on a bender was consuming, but Gizmodo, which first reported on the story, notes that “energy drinks with added niacin include Monster, Rockstar, and Red Bull.”
It’s been a bad week for energy drinks, including the news that vodka and Red Bull is as bad for you as cocaine, but the global energy drink industry will be all right. Some estimates peg it at $56 billion in sales by 2020, despite increasing governmental regulation. There are morning energy drinks, Ed Hardy energy drinks, about a dozen energy drinks named after poisonous snakes and bears and shit, one specifically designed to regulate truck drivers’ blood pressure, and something called Nerd, which is apparently quite good. There is also coffee, which carries no social stigma, and sleep, which is for the elderly.
It’s also easy to overlook that it was a 50-year-old construction worker who was subjecting his body to this, which makes the whole thing sort of heart-wrenching. Still, the moral of the story is clear: Do not drink five energy drinks a day, because your body will freak the fuck out.