Wednesday, August 24, 2011

10 Red Bull Facts Every College Student Should Know

Red Bull is a staple on college campuses. When you’re running short on time, but still have lots of work to complete, chances are, you’re going to supercharge your energy with coffee or an energy drink like Red Bull. But although this drink is approved for sale in the US, the long term effects of its use are not known. Even short term effects are not fully understood, but just one can has the potential to alter your health, albeit temporarily.

There are plenty of rumors and accusations swirling around against Red Bull — even those so extreme they claim the active ingredient in Red Bull is a Vietnam-era Department of Defense chemical. Of course, not everything is true, but much of Red Bull’s bad rap does stem from actual events, research, and even deaths. Read on to find out 10 things you should know before you pick up your next can of Red Bull.

Red Bull may have triggered a fatal heart condition

After drinking four cans of Red Bull and various other caffeinated drinks, 21-year-old student Chloe Leach fell to the floor in a nightclub and died at the scene. She died of a rare heart condition, which may have been triggered by the excessive amount of caffeine she consumed. She had no illegal drugs in her system, and according to her mom, was typically careful in her caffeine consumption, only drinking Red Bull occasionally. This rare case is not likely to happen to most college students, but it does serve as a cautionary tale not to drink an excessive amount of energy drinks. It was unknown at the time of her death that a large amount of caffeine could trigger her heart condition.

Red Bull Cola once contained cocaine

In April and June 2009, batches of Red Bull Cola were found to contain cocaine, sparking bans from Taiwan and most states in Germany. However, this scary fact is made less scary when you note that it was between 0.1-0.3 micrograms per litre. Even with a low tolerance per can, a person would have to consume 2 million cans at once before becoming seriously ill from cocaine in the drink. Red Bull uses the extract of coca leaves for flavoring, but insists that they’re only used after removing the cocaine alkaloid, which, according to Bolivian coca growers, is completely unnecessary for safety. Some may recall that Coca-Cola’s original formula included coca leaves.

Red Bull contains lots of sodium

Most people realize that Red Bull has lots of harmful sugars. But sodium may not be as obvious, and although there’s a sugar-free Red Bull option, there’s not yet one with a low sodium option. In one small can, Red Bull packs 9% of your sodium for the day. Have more than one, and you’re nearing 20%. Although sodium is good for those working out, students downing Red Bulls to power through late nights probably aren’t sweating enough to need sodium replacement from a drink. The CDC reports that 90% of the people in the US get too much sodium, raising our risk of high blood pressure, and in turn, our risk for heart disease, stroke, and kidney problems.

Mixing Red Bull with alcohol can be dangerous and deadly

Red Bull cocktails can lead to impulsive, risky behavior, according to a study at Northern Kentucky University. Those who mix alcohol and Red Bull may feel more awake and alert, not really aware of their level of intoxication. You may drink more than you normally would, and make poor decisions as a result. A pre-mixed alcoholic energy drink, Four Loko, was banned after several hospitalizations and even college student deaths of those who drank the concoction to become "wide awake drunk."

Red Bull raises your risk for heart attack and stroke

After drinking just one can of Red Bull, your risk for heart attack or stroke rises, even in young people. An Australian study found that Red Bull makes blood "sticky," with abnormal blood systems similar to patients with cardiovascular disease. Researchers caution against drinking Red Bull for those that may be suffering from stress or high blood pressure. Researcher Scott Willoughby recommends, "if you have any predisposition to cardiovascular disease, I’d think twice about drinking it."

Red Bull has been linked to kidney failure

In Sweden, Red Bull was investigated in the deaths of three young people believed to have consumed the drink. Two of them used Red Bull as a mixer, which is commonly believed to be dangerous, but one of them drank several Red Bulls after a hard workout and died of kidney failure. This prompted officials in Greece to recommend that the drink not be consumed after strenuous exercise, and France, Denmark, and Norway only allow Red Bull to be sold in pharmacies. Although there is no conclusive evidence, scientists do have their suspicions that Red Bull in large amounts can harm your kidneys, and clearly, officials have acted to reduce the risk if it is in fact true.

Red Bull can slow water absorption

Although Red Bull "vitalizes body and mind," it’s not good for exercise, and can keep you from absorbing water due to high levels of caffeine and sugar. Most people already don’t get enough water, especially while consuming Red Bull and other types of drinks. Drinking a Red Bull instead of water could further exacerbate a water deficiency. Red Bull’s representative Kim Peterson shares that the drink is definitely "not a ‘thirst quencher’ or fluid replenishment drink." So if you’re going to drink Red Bull, be sure to keep an eye on your water intake as well.

Red Bull can cause behavior problems

A Catholic high school in Britain had to ban Red Bull after several students exhibited changed behavior, and not for the better. Students became hyperactive, noisier, stopped responding to instructions, and began arriving to school later than they should. Although college students may be responsible enough to avoid such negative actions after drinking Red Bull, there’s no guarantee the drink won’t make you more impetuous and irresponsible.

Drinking too much Red Bull can make your heart stop

After drinking a large amount of Red Bull (approximately eight cans in five hours) a motocross competitor, Matthew Penbross, collapsed in 2007. His heart had stopped, and he needed defibrillation to be revived. At 28 years old and in "peak condition," his only other risk factor for a heart attack was smoking. He regularly drank four Red Bulls each day instead of eating, although labels warn against drinking more than two cans a day. The cardiologist who treated Penbross believes that "excessive consumption of energy drinks had precipitated the heart attack." Excessive consumption of Red Bull certainly seems to be dangerous, and should be avoided even on an occasional basis.
Caffeine intoxication can happen, and it’s scary

Red Bull packs a serious punch of caffeine, and too much can cause serious health problems. There is such a thing as caffeine intoxication, which can include tremors, anxiety, restlessness, rapid heartbeats, and sometimes even death. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University believe that Red Bull and other high-caffeine energy drinks should carry warning labels to alert users to their levels of caffeine content.


Florida teacher who punched student returns to classroom

An art teacher who punched an unruly high school student last spring is back in the classroom - but at a different school.

The St. Petersburg Times reports that 64-year-old Sandra Hadsock was present on the first day of school Monday to teach art to elementary students at a school in Spring Hill, north of Tampa.

She agreed to the move as part of a deal to keep her job.

Hadsock was arrested in May after punching a male student who called her a vulgar name and then advanced on her. The incident was caught on a student's cellphone video camera.

But prosecutors declined to press charges, saying the video didn't provide conclusive evidence that the veteran teacher wasn't acting in self-defense.


Britain thrashing about on student funding

Restricting enrolments at top quality universities and encouraging more enrolments at cheap universities seems very destructive

Institutions such as Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College could be stripped of undergraduate places next year in a move that effectively penalises universities charging the most for degree courses.

Manchester and Leeds – the biggest universities in the elite Russell Group – face losing up to 300 students each, while Sheffield Hallam, in Nick Clegg’s constituency, could be stripped of 450. The disclosure is made as part of Labour research into radical reforms to higher education funding in 2012.

From next year, 20,000 places are removed from all universities before being “auctioned off” to institutions that charge the lowest tuition fees.

Gareth Thomas, Labour’s shadow universities minister, said: “These figures confirm that places at high quality internationally renowned universities for the brightest and best students are set to be axed in order to fund a race to the bottom.”

The Government currently controls how many students each university can recruit. Numbers are capped because of the cost to the taxpayer of providing undergraduates with means-tested grants and upfront student loans to cover tuition and living expenses.

From 2012, English universities can charge up to £9,000 in tuition fees – almost three times the current rate. Figures show the average fee will stand at £8,393.

But to minimise the student loans bill, ministers are determined to ensure that most universities charge far less. In a controversial move, it has proposed creating a “flexible margin” of around 20,000 places to reward the cheapest universities. This would be created by stripping student numbers from each university on a pro-rata basis and awarding them to institutions that charge less than £7,500.

But this means many universities – particularly those charging close to the maximum amount – could be badly hit.

An analysis using data from the House of Commons library shows how many student places each one will lose on a pro-rota basis.

The Russell Group, which represents 16 English universities, faces collectively losing up to 2,300 places. Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial and the London School of Economics could lose 50 students each. A further 2,100 could go at institutions belonging to the 1994 Group, which represents smaller research universities such as Durham, Lancaster and York.

But the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills criticised the analysis, which they said failed to take other reforms into account. This includes plans to allow the best universities to recruit unlimited numbers of students who get the best A-level results – at least two As and a B – potentially recouping places lost under the "flexible margin" system.


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