We all know that drinking too much alcohol can hurt your liver, but who knew Red Bull could do the same? Doctors were convinced a 26-year-old mother from England was an alcoholic after they saw just how damaged her liver was, the Daily Mail reports.
“They kept talking about alcohol and asking how much I drank,” the patient, Mary Allwood, said. “They said my liver looked the same as someone who was an alcoholic and that’s when I said I drank at least 12 Red Bulls a day. They looked at me in disgust.”
Yet it turned out the cause was not liquor, but copious amounts of Red Bull: specifically, 20 cans a day.
Allwood spent more than roughly $3,000 a year to consume the equivalent of 17 chocolate bars’ and 16 cups of coffee worth of sugar and caffeine respectively.
Consequently, in late 2015 the woman was rushed to the hospital in serious pain where it was revealed her liver had doubled in size because of the fat from the sugary drinks.
Allwood explains she was addicted to the energy drinks.
“I needed it and I didn’t care at the time what damage it was doing to me,” she said. “If I didn’t get my fix I would be miserable and grumpy and it just wasn’t an option – I would make sure I got it”
Since her hospitalization, however, she has gone “cold turkey.” Recent tests from May 2016 reveal her liver is now back to normal. She has also lost weight.
However, she is now concerned for others who may not know the dangers these addictive drinks can pose.
“Now the thought that anyone can go to the shops and buy it makes me so worried,” Allwood said. “I think it should be treated as if it is alcohol and cigarettes.”
Allwood may be onto something.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Dawn Report reveals energy drink-related hospital visits between 2007-2011 have dramatically increased.
Kathleen Miller, Ph.D., a senior research scientist at the University at Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions, says companies need to be more transparent about ingredients.
“Let people know what they are drinking,” Miller says, The Huffington Post reports. “Knowledge is power. The more you tell them, the more they can make intelligent, informed decisions.”