For some, the 3pm slump is an indicator to visit the vending machine and reach for a cold can of caffeine. With a plethora of energy drinks now on the market, our appetite for the drinks has reached something of a fever pitch. From the zero sugar, low-cal beverages to those that are so artificially sweet you can practically feel your tongue go limp in defeat, there’s something for everyone. But while most tend to only require a can of energy drink on the rare occasion, for others they are akin to life blood. In fact, getting through a day without having guzzled a can or three is almost unthinkable.
Such was the case for 55-year-old dad, Lee Kamen. Kamen would drink up to 12 cans a day of energy drinks for a year. While he doesn’t drink or smoke, energy drinks were his major vice and Kamen was just 49 when he suffered from a heart attack. Now, he’s on a mission to warn others of the dangers posed by energy drinks and is urging shopkeepers not to sell them to those under 16. While most supermarkets don’t sell them to kids, it’s not against the law for those under 16 to buy them and Kamen said his 10-year-old daughter was able to go into a shop and buy an energy drink, before he promptly poured it straight down the drain.
In an interview with Daily Mail, Kamen said: “I was on eight to 12 a day at the time, I was drinking Red Bull and Monster, I used to go to Makro for the pub and would buy cases of 24 cans and just drink them like any other drink. I was working a lot and drank them to keep me going. This probably went on for about a year.”
He continued: “One day I collapsed with a heart attack and had to have a stent fitted. I am now on medication for life due to those dangerous drinks. When I was in hospital after the heart attack, the doctor told me the energy drink consumption was the cause. I didn’t have a clue there was anything wrong with drinking them until then. It was a hell of a shock at the time, but now I am passionate about this issue.”
Current guidelines suggest children between 12 and 18 should not consume more than 100mg of caffeine a day, which is about the amount found in a cup of coffee. Energy drinks in contrast, contain up to 500mg per can. It’s not the first time the safety of the beverages has been called into question, after the British Medical Journal reported on a 21-year-old who was left with heart failure following excessive consumption of energy drinks earlier this year. The unnamed man was drinking two litres of caffeinated drinks a day, before he eventually required hospital treatment. After stating he was suffering from shortness of breath and weight loss, tests showed he had heart and kidney failure after consuming 640mg of caffeine a day.
Kamen would ultimately like to see energy drinks banned, but until then he’ll ensure his daughter doesn’t get into the habit of buying any to drink.