Jagerbombs could worsen binge drinking problems, says University of Portsmouth researcher

MIXING energy drinks with alcohol could make binge drinking problems even worse than they already are, according to research from the University of Portsmouth.

Tuesday, 14th August 2018, 11:54 am
Updated Sunday, 2nd September 2018, 10:05 pm
Jagerbombs could have a serious impact on binge drinking, according to research. Picture: Edward Simpson (CC BY 2.0)
Jagerbombs could have a serious impact on binge drinking, according to research. Picture: Edward Simpson (CC BY 2.0)

Researchers from the University of Portsmouth and the Federal University of Santa Maria in Brazil have tested the effects of taurine, a key ingredient in many energy drinks '“ finding that taurine increased the fear-reducing properties of alcohol, but also affected social communication.

This means that although drinks like Jagerbombs make drinkers feel more awake and less drunk on a night out, they can also exaggerate the effects of binge drinking '“ such as increasing the risk of violence.

Dr Matt Parker, senior lecturer in behavioural pharmacology and molecular neuroscience at the University of Portsmouth, said: '˜The effects of mixing alcohol and energy drinks is yet to be established. This study is the first to show that the two together may be exacerbating some of the negative effects of binge drinking; that is reduction of fear and problems in social communication while intoxicated, which collectively increase the risk of fighting, violence and participation in risky behaviours.'

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The research studied the impact of mixing energy drinks and alcohol on zebrafish.

Dr Parker added: '˜Binge drinking and general alcohol misuse is a key problem in the UK and across the world, with the numbers of hospital admissions resulting from illness or injury following intoxication costing the NHS millions per year.

'˜Alcohol reduces our inhibitions, and in low doses can cause relaxation and euphoria.

'˜However, in higher doses this low inhibition can cause problems with fighting or risky behaviour. Zebrafish have similar biological and behavioural responses to alcohol, and are a highly social species, making them ideal for studying the effects of alcohol on behaviour.

'˜Here, we found that the addition of taurine, an ingredient in many '˜energy' drinks, appears to exacerbate risky choices in zebrafish, as well as reducing their social cohesion.

'˜Taken together, these data appear to suggest that mixing alcohol and taurine might be a factor in increasing some of the negative effects of alcohol.

'˜People should be aware that drinking energy drinks in combination with alcohol may impair their judgement, and should do so with caution.'