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UB study: Alcohol-infused energy drinks linked to risky, casual sex

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

Remember the Four Loko controversy of fall 2010? The party-craze that centered around a beverage that would, more than likely, make you sick or blackout? Begrudgingly, companies like Four Loko and Sparks recognized that the combination of alcohol and caffeine was dangerous, and then made adjustments to temper the caffeine in their products.

While the focus then was to prevent the increasing amount of deaths blamed on Four Loko, consuming an alcohol-infused energy drink still holds other risks (believe it or not!). According to a University at Buffalo study by Kathleen E. Miller from the Research Institute on Addictions, early college students who consumed alcohol mixed with energy drinks were more likely to have a casual sex partner or have been intoxicated during their last sexual escapade.

The problem is that casual or intoxicated sex can increase the risk of unwanted outcomes, like unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, sexual assault and depression, says Miller. And previous research has linked energy drink consumption with other dangerous behaviors: drunken driving, binge drinking and fighting, for example.

The study involved 648 sexually-active college students (47.5% were female) and over 60% were under 21. (Apparently, there’s also a problem with underage drinking.) Even though the branded alcohol-infused energy drinks have largely gone by the wayside, mixed drinks like Jagerbombs and vodka & Red Bull are still prevalent. While it’s unhealthy for several internal organs (liver, kidneys, heart) to mix a depressant like alcohol with a stimulant like caffeine, the immediate effect of not being able to judge your own level of intoxication—due to the sugar, taurine and guarana in energy drinks—is the basic problem that leads to these stats.

At their most recent sexual encounter, 45.1 percent of the participants reported having a casual partner, 24.8 percent reported being intoxicated and 43.6 percent reported that they did not use a condom.

Interestingly, the effects of alcohol mixed with energy drinks have no impact on whether or not a condom is used during sex.

For the complete study with lots of puzzling numbers and charts, go here.

(Header photo courtesy of Flickr / MJmerry).

TAGGED: four loko, risky sex, sparks, university at buffalo

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