New study reveals energy drinks no better than coffee.

5hourenergydogIt must be pretty rough to be an energy drink maker these days. After nearly a decade of of gangbuster sales the products are coming under greater scrutiny by both the media and the government. The makers of 5 Hour Energy in particular have been on the defensive quite a bit lately after a number of news reports citing the drink in the deaths of upward of 13 people over four years.

Now a study has been released that shows it’s not any more effective than any other source of caffeine:

Energy Drinks No Better than Caffeine at Boosting Attention | LiveScience.

“A lot of people take the energy drinks because they think they have that extra boost over caffeine,” said study researcher Chelsea Benham, a student at Centre College in Danville, Ky. But the study shows “there’s really no difference,” Benham said.

In terms of boosting attention, a cup of coffee “would do you just as well,” if it had the same amount of caffeine as an energy drink, she said.

A 2-ounce bottle of 5-Hour Energy contains about 215 milligrams of caffeine, the equivalent of about two cups of coffee.

I don’t make a point of watching commercials for this product, but they’re played so often it’s hard to miss them. For a long time they claimed that it gave you the energy boost of a soda or coffee “without the crash later”, but the ones I’ve been seeing lately have been touting how it’s sold a shitload drinks over the years, contains ingredients found in other foods you eat (implying it’s “natural” and thus safe), and is about the same as a cup of coffee. Whereas the old commercials implied that it was somehow way better than coffee the new commercial sums it up asĀ “Like coffee with vitamins and nutrients.” It’s pretty clear the makers of 5 Hour Energy are a tad concerned that their golden egg may be in trouble.

Not that 5 Hour Energy is being singled out. A report released last November by the FDA cited a number of energy drinks as being a possible factor in various injuries and deaths including Monster Energy and Rockstar Energy.

For the time being the FDA doesn’t appear to be taking any action with regard to energy drinks and possible health issues related to them. The truth is that they’re just concentrated forms of caffeine and if you drink too much coffee or regular old caffeinated sodas you risk the same health issues. Overuse is most likely a factor in many of the injuries folks have suffered from these products. What this study shows, however, is that you don’t really gain anything from these products. The “alertness boost” is about the same as drinking coffee and there’s no evidence the added vitamins and nutrients help maintain energy levels or stave off the crash effect at all. Not to mention that the cost for these energy drinks is considerably higher than for regular sodas or coffee.

Are people really that worried about the length of their eyelashes?

The other day I’m sittin’ on the couch watching something I can’t recall at the moment, probably How It’s Made on the Discovery Channel, when an advertisement for something called Latisse comes on during a break. The ad features Brook Shields in what starts off looking like your typical push for a mascara product, but she ain’t shillin’ for mascara this time. No, Latisse is a drug that’s supposed to give you longer and fuller eye lashes. They bill it as the first FDA approved drug to treat, and I quote, “inadequate or not enough eyelashes.” According to their website the technical term for this condition is hyptrichosis, but according to the folks at the American Hair Loss Association I just linked to, that term is used by dermatologists to describe a condition of no hair growth. Which I suppose would be pretty inadequate eyelashes.

So I’m watching this ad unfold as they explain that you apply it to the base of your lashes on the upper eyelid and in a few weeks you’ll have eyelashes you could beat a horse to death with. Then they get into the traditional Listing Of The Side Effects phase of the ad. As they list off the numerous things that could go wrong my jaw slowly hit the floor. Here’s the official list directly from their website:

If you are using prescription products for lowering eye pressure or have a history of eye pressure problems, only use LATISSE® under close doctor supervision. May cause eyelid skin darkening which may be reversible, and there is potential for increased brown iris pigmentation which is likely to be permanent. There is a potential for hair growth to occur in areas where LATISSE® solution comes in repeated contact with skin surfaces. If you develop or experience any eye problems or have eye surgery, consult your doctor immediately about continued use of LATISSE®. The most common side effects after using LATISSE® solution are an itching sensation in the eyes and/or eye redness.

Got that? If you have a history of eye pressure problems then this drug could make them worse. It could darken up your eyelids so you look like you’ve got a couple of shiners from someone, but that may be, not necessarily is mind you, but may be reversible. It could also turn your eyes brown if they aren’t already and that’s not reversible. You could grow hair where you don’t want it to if you are sloppy in applying this product! Best of all it’s likely to make your eyes red and itchy like your allergies are acting up. But at least you won’t have inadequate lashes!

As it turns out, Latisse is actually just another drug, called Lumigan which is used to treat glaucoma, with a new name. One of the side effects of Lumigan is increased hair growth so it didn’t take much thinkin’ for someone to figure out that they could sell it to people who suffer from eyelash insecurity and make some extra bucks. If you go to their website they spend a lot of time downplaying the risks of the product, which should come as no big surprise.

The folks at the FDA, however, they ain’t too happy about that:

We’ve blogged about the new eyelash enhancement drug Latisse several times before. And we’ve talked about how the drug has some side effects that are rather serious for a cosmetic product, and that Allergan’s promotional materials tend to downplay such risks. Now the Food and Drug Administration has sent a warning letter to Allergan, saying that many claims on its website are misleading and, in fact, unlawful.

You can read the whole letter for yourself, but here some highlights.

Latisse’s Website says:
In the “Is Latisse safe?” section of the drug’s website: “The FDA reviewed clinical study results to verify the identity, potency, purity and stability of the ingredients, and demonstrated that the product is safe and effective for its intended use if used as prescribed.”

The FDA says:
This description is misleading and it fails to mention that Latisse may have side effects, or mention any of those side effects. It also implies, according to the FDA, that Latisse is “especially safe because the FDA has verified the identity, potency, purity, and stability of the ingredients.”

Latisse’s website says:
The site repeatedly mentions that the eye redness and itching that can accompany the use of Latisse are “not allergic reactions.”

The FDA says:
That’s misleading. In fact, allergic conjunctivitis is an adverse reaction reported with the use of the active ingredient, bimatoprost ophthalmic solution. Further, these symptoms are usually resolved only after discontinuing treatment with the drug. The FDA was particularly concerned about these claims, according to the letter, “because patients are highly unlikely to be able to differentiate between eye redness associated with conjunctival hyperemia, allergic reaction, or inflammation without the advice of a healthcare provider.”

The FDA lists off several misleading claims and has told the folks at Allergan they’d best be making some changes or they’ll be facing some fines.

If you watch the video you’ll be even more stunned to hear that it costs about $120 a month to use this drug and if you stop using it your lashes go back to their old wussy assed ways. So once you start I hope you can afford to keep using it while avoiding all those side effects. Now I’m no fashion diva, but that sounds like a lot to go through because you think some guy isn’t going out with you because your eyelashes are too thin and wispy.

And I’ll let you in on a little secret: In all my 42 years of being a guy I have never once heard a man say to me: “Ya know, she’s got a great personality and a body that would make the Pope give up celibacy, but I just can’t get past her inadequate eyelashes!”