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Sep 24, 2015 02:48 PM EDT

Energy Drinks Linked To Brain Damage In Teens


New research suggests that energy drinks is closely associated with brain damage in teenagers, Yahoo News reported.

Researchers at St. Michael's Hospital found that people 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 traumatic brain injury.

They also found that teens who reported sustaining a brain injury within the past year were at least twice as likely to have consumed energy drinks mixed with alcohol than teens who reported sustaining a traumatic brain injury more than a year previously.

Traumatic brain injury was defined as an injury resulting in the loss of consciousness for at least five minutes, or being hospitalized for at least one night.

"We've found a link between increased brain injuries and the consumption of energy drinks or energy drinks mixed with alcohol," Dr. Michael Cusimano, a neurosurgeon at St. Michael's Hospital, said in a statement. "This is significant because energy drinks have previously been associated with general injuries, but not specifically with traumatic brain injury."

Cusimano also said energy drink consumption could interfere with recovery efforts for teens who have sustained a traumatic brain injury.

"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 sustaining an injury," he explained. "Brain injuries among adolescents are particularly concerning because their brains are still developing."

For the study, researchers collected and analyzed data from approximately 10,000 students between the ages 11 and 20, Yahoo News reported.

"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," Dr. Robert Mann, senior scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, said in a statement. "While we cannot say this link is causal, it's a behavior that could cause further injury and so we should be looking at this relationship closely in future research."

They found that about 22 percent of all students surveyed reported they'd experienced a traumatic brain injury, with sports injuries accounting for almost half of traumatic brain injury cases experienced in the past year.

Previous research at St. Michael's Hospital found that brain injuryis associated with poor academic performance, mental health issues, violence, substance abuse and aggression in both teens and adults -- factors that can interfere with rehabilitation,.

The findings are detailed in the journal PLOS One.

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