Is Red Bull Bad for You? Why You Shouldn’t Drink Energy Drinks

Learn how energy drinks can spike your blood pressure and cause other deleterious effects in your body.

energy drink dangers

A 2015 study found that after adults drank one 16-ounce can of an energy drink, the average systolic blood pressure of the participants increased by 6.2 percent.

© Andrey_A | iStock/GettyImages Plus

Energy drinks might be tempting when you’re tired but need to keep yourself alert. And to some, they might seem harmless. But are they safe? Is Red Bull bad for you? Or Monster? Or 5-Hour Energy? The medical community recommends that we don’t let such products become a regular habit. There’s growing evidence that these energy drinks can cause some significant harm in your body.

The Dangers of Energy Drinks

The answer to “Is Red Bull Bad for you?” is self-explanatory when you consider the following:

Drinking Just One Energy Drink Causes Elevated Blood Pressure

A 2015 study found that after adults drank one 16-ounce can of an energy drink, the average systolic blood pressure of the participants increased by 6.2 percent, while the average diastolic blood pressure increased by 6.8 percent.[1]

Additionally, norepinephrine levels increased by 74 percent after drinking the energy drink; elevated norepineprhine can cause changes in blood pressure, heart rate, and heart function.[1] The researchers conclude that the changes in blood pressure and norepinephrine levels may increase one’s chances of cardiovascular problems.

Is red bull bad for you

Is Red Bull bad for you? The research provides a definitive answer. (Photo: Dreamstime)

Other studies have found similar effects—that energy drinks lead to significant increases in blood pressure readings.[2]

Caffeine itself has blood-pressure-raising effects, which may partly explain why energy drinks are so dangerous when it comes to keeping blood pressure in the healthy range.[3] But studies show that energy drinks raise blood pressure by other mechanisms, too, different from caffeine alone.[4]

A study reported by the American Heart Association (AHA) found that energy drinks can increase blood pressure and cause changes in the heart’s electrical activity. Healthy young adults that drink 32 ounces of an energy drink had heart and blood pressure changes that were more than expected from the amount of caffeine. These dangers may be due to the addition of other stimulants added to caffeine. AHA recommends that anyone with a history of heart or blood pressure problems should avoid energy drinks.


The high caffeine levels in energy drinks are one reason that energy drinks are so bad for children, especially those with underlying heart conditions.[3]

Is Red Bull Bad for You? Yes—So Look for Energy from Other Sources

If you want to avoid the negative health effects of energy drinks, and especially if you have high blood pressure and want to protect you heart, stay away from products like Red Bull and 5-Hour Energy. Instead, look to natural alternatives for boosting your energy levels.

For starters, try an energy-boosting food to keep you alert instead. You also may want to use vitamins to increase your energy levels.


Originally published in 2015, this post is regularly updated.


[1] JAMA. 2015 Nov 8:1-3. [Epub ahead of print]
[2] Circulation. 2015;132:A12689.
[3] Pediatrics. 2011 Mar;127(3):511-28.
[4] Physiol Rep. 2015 Feb 25;3(2). pii: e12290.
[5] Energy drinks may provide jolt to heart, blood pressure | American Heart Association

As a service to our readers, University Health News offers a vast archive of free digital content. Please note the date published or last update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

UHN Staff

University Health News is produced by the award-winning editors and authors of Belvoir Media Group’s Health & Wellness Division. Headquartered in Norwalk, Conn., with editorial offices in Florida, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, … Read More

View all posts by UHN Staff

Comments Comments Policy
  • you start out talking about redbull but by the end of the article you are talking about energy drinks as a whole , with redbull being a very different formula how does any of that apply to redbull ??

  • Energy drinks affect my stomach really bad, i have acid reflux (because of how many energy drinks i consumed) and if i drink one ill dry heave over eating french fries, candy anything really

  • Great article which I hope everyone takes heed from. Energy drinks are awful our health yet people fall for their (admittedly impressive and) relentless marketing. When someone writes “This is not a well wrote article” (see above), I think we can easily dismiss the credibility of those here opposing any criticism.

    I gave up energy and soft drinks, and I feel so much better and more alert. All without an E-number in sight.

  • As a college student my mom made me read this article because I drink Red Bull with two spoon fulls of raw ground coffee. This article is lacking sufficient data. Of course don’t drink energy drinks every day but if it works for you every now and then, just do you. Anyways @ mom, I need this for upper division calculus and chem classes, green tea and yoga just isn’t for me

  • Wish the artical would back up what it says. But other than that I recently started drinking red bull to improve my work ethic and it’s possitive affects are endless. Ive tried for years to eat healthy and get lots of sleep but nothing does it quite like the reccomended dose of red bull. Of course i was worried about becoming dependent on the product but i have no affects when I take breaks. Just likr any drug i would strongly suggest using caffeine responsibly but I dont think a red bull is any worse than other soft drinks.

  • I was drinking 2 12 oz cans of redbull a day I eventually wound up in the ER in A Fib with a pulse rate
    175 to 185 never again will I drink redbull.

  • For me, Red Bull is next to poison. I ended up with a heart rate that went from 72 to 146 in less than five minutes. My heart felt like it was going to explode. Ended up in ER and a day in Hospital under observation to check for damage to my heart. Wanna play Russian Roulette, drink Red Bull.

  • I think it definitely depends on your system and health. I can drink a cup of coffee and or one Red Bull and it gives me mental focus and energy without the jitters most caffeinated things provide. But Red Bull doesn’t mess with my stomach like coffee does. It helps me to feel more alert at work.

  • Red Bull is bad for you, if you drink 2 or more every day. Most of the reasons people have gone to the ER because of Red Bull is because they drink WAY too much of it. Too much of anything can be dangerous. As long as you don’t chug 2 red bulls in one day, you’re fine. Also personal advice, stick to the 8 oz cans, not the 12 oz.

  • They arent as bad as you are making them out to be. Like most things moderation is the key.
    The small redbull beverages arent terrible for you, provided you are in somewhat decent health or are not sensitive to such things. now when you start talking about blood pressure and all that, that varies per individual. And of course you can say find other sources of energy. But to say they are just bad in general is not true. its like the difference between one redline drink and 4-8 in a day.

  • I drink the small cans three or four times off of the week. And it’s mostly in the summer. My allergies are bad and I feel tired

  • Ive been drinking Red Bull over 7 years, mostly 2 cans a day (8oz/each). I don’t feel any bad, I just like Red Bull taste, nothing harms happen on me. but anyway, just recommend everybody to be careful, because people body’s system are so different! my candy is your poison. Good Luck.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Enter Your Login Credentials
This setting should only be used on your home or work computer.