Study shows brain damage risk

Many people mix energy drinks with alcohol for various reasons. Some believe that combining the two can help prevent a hangover. However, aside from the individual risks associated with each, a recent study has shown that mixing the two can have serious consequences on brain functioning.

Why do some people mix alcohol and energy drinks?

There are various reasons why people, especially younger people, like to mix alcohol with energy drinks. A sweet energy drink may improve or mask the taste of alcohol. Some may feel like they can drink more alcohol by having both at the same time. The stimulants in energy drinks can also mask the depressant effects of the alcohol. 

Popular mixes include mixing Red Bull with vodka and Jägerbombs. A Jägerbomb is a mixed drink consisting of a shot of Jägermeister and an energy drink. 

How did researchers conduct the study?

A team from the University of Cagliari and the University of Catania in Italy conducted the study. The researchers used rats for the tests. They gave groups of adolescent rats alcohol, energy drinks, or a mixture of both. They then used various standard experiments to assess cognitive functioning. The researchers’ tests included brain scans and behavioural tests that they performed up to 53 days after giving the rats the liquids.

What did the study reveal?

The tests revealed that the animals that consumed the mixed drinks showed enduring changes in their ability to learn and remember, as well as changes in the hippocampus part of the brain – the area responsible for learning and memory.

In particular, the researchers found that hippocampus plasticity could be affected, impairing the brain’s ability to adapt and change in response to new information and demands. It’s a crucial part of the brain’s normal functioning.

While the rats on alcohol and energy drinks initially showed a boost in certain brain functions, e.g. a rise in a protein that drives neuron growth, the benefits did not last. Over time, there was a significant decline in brain capability.

“Little is known about whether the combined consumption of these drinks, during adolescence, may have long-term effects on central function, raising the question of the risks of this habit on brain maturation.”


Researchers must still confirm the results in terms of human studies. Also, there could be differences between sexes due to hormone interactions that they were not able to explore in this study.

The full details and results of the study have been published in Neuropharmacology.

Do you often mix alcohol with energy drinks?

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