Red Bull the company claims that Red Bull the drink does not turn into crazy juice when it is mixed with alcohol.“There is no indication that Red Bull Energy Drink has any specific effect (negative or positive) related to alcohol consumption” it says on its website, citing a 2012 decision by the U.K. Committee on Toxicity. This is all well and good, until your buddy downs three Red Bull vodkas in 30 minutes at the bar, leaving behind your own personal Tasmanian Devil to contain.
A new study on the effects of energy drinks mixed with alcohol might back up your side of the story.
Researchers from the University of Portsmouth and the Federal University of Santa Maria in Brazil took taurine, a key ingredient in many energy drinks (including Red Bull), mixed it with alcohol, and tested it on some zebrafish. They compared these zebrafish with zebrafish that had only been exposed to water, taurine, or alcohol separately. All the fish were observed to see how they interacted with other fish in their tanks or responded to potential danger.
Surprise, surprise: The zebrafish that ingested taurine and alcohol socialized less with other fish and spent more time engaging in risky behavior, like hanging out in a so-called “predator zone.”
“Taken together, these data appear to suggest that mixing alcohol and taurine might be a factor in increasing some of the negative effects of alcohol. People should be aware that drinking energy drinks in combination with alcohol may impair their judgement, and should do so with caution,” Dr. Matt Parker, study co-author and senior lecturer at the University of Portsmouth, told Science Daily.
Parker also said this study was the first to suggest that mixing alcohol and energy drinks amplifies the risks of fighting, violence, and other stupid activities that come with binge drinking. The results were published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research.
And now, a disclaimer about zebrafish: Zebrafish are not humans. Thus, this single study cannot conclusively say anything about what happens to humans with they drink energy drinks mixed with alcohol. But just like an older study, highlighted by Munchies, that found alcohol mixed with energy drink-levels of caffeine produced in cocaine-like effects in mice, it’s good to know what an energy drink might do.
And seriously, just about anything is better than a Red Bull vodka at the bar.