High intake of alcohol mixed with energy drinks can lead to unsafe sex
27th July 2012
Energy drinks such as Monster or Red Bull have long been a staple in the diet of many young people, especially students. Either as a quick ‘pick-me-up’, or used as a mixer with spirits such as Vodka, it seems their demand is as high as ever. However, a new study to emerge from the University of Buffalo, has seemingly found that the increase in casual and risky sex (i.e. without the use of a condom or other contraception), could possibly be connected to the high consumption of caffeinated energy drinks that are being mixed with alcohol. Study author Kathleen E. Miller was inspired to conduct some research after noting the rather blasé ‘hook-up’ culture on numerous college sites across America, with many students indulging in casual sex with multiple partners. Also she had witnessed a 16-year family friend break out in sudden shakes and jitters due to an excessive Red Bull consumption. For her study, Miller enlisted 648 subjects from introductory-level courses at at unnamed public university. The age span of participants ranged from 18 to 40 years of age, but 60% of the 648 people were under the age of 21, and 47.5% of the total subjects were comprised of women. The study’s results have been published in the print edition of Journal of Caffeine Research. Some of the key findings were that 29.3% said they had consumed energy drinks in the previous month, and at the most latest sexual encounter, 45.1% reported it was ‘casual’, 24.8% admitted to being drunk and 43.6% revealed they had not bothered to use a condom. This irresponsible attitude amongst drinkers is a dangerous trend that shows no sign of improving. They will be putting themselves at risk of catching a sexually transmitted infection (STI) such as Chlamydia, which is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections, with 186,753 people in England testing positive for this during 2010. Up to 70% of people do not experience any symptoms of infection and it can cause infertility in both men and women. The only way of checking if you have a chlamydia infection is to take a chlamydia test such as the Clamelle test kit, available from just £24.85 at Medical Specialists Pharmacy. Genital herpes is another common STI, highly prevalent in people aged between 20 to 24 years. In 2008, it was reported that roughly 29,000 people attended a sexual health clinic in the UK with a first clinical attack of genital herpes. An effective medication for this is Valtrex, which is an antiviral drug that contains valaciclovir. It slows the growth and spread of the herpes virus so that the body can fight off the infection. Miller commented on the results from her study, saying, “Mixing energy drinks with alcohol can lead to unintentional over drinking, because the caffeine makes it harder to assess your own level of intoxication. AmEDs (energy drinks) have stronger priming effects than alcohol alone. In other words, they increase the craving for another drink, so that you end up drinking more overall.” She further added that while mixing AmEDs and alcohol will not necessarily lead to casual sexual encounters, it does increase the chances of them occurring. But there was some good news to counter the bad. Miller continued, “Regardless of their AmED use, participants in the study were more likely to use a condom during sex with a casual partner than during sex with a steady partner, consistent with previous research.”