Nobody is downing Vodka Red Bulls at the club at 1 AM because they think it’s good for them. They're hoping to counteract the sleepiness induced by alcohol with the energy drink so they can keep partying.
It’s a pretty well-known fact that it is actually more dangerous to drink when you add in Red Bull or another energy mixer, but a new study gives a little insight into why. As it turns out, there’s one particular ingredient in many energy drinks that heightens the negative effects of binge drinking. It's called taurine.
In the study, researchers out of the University of Portsmouth and the Federal University of Santa Maria in Brazil measured the effects of alcohol, taurine, and alcohol-taurine combos on 192 adult zebrafish.
They found that when the fish were given both alcohol and taurine, they displayed more behaviors corresponding to serious binge drinking in humans: taking more risks, hanging out for longer in the predator area and interacting less with the other fish in the tank.
"The effects of mixing alcohol and energy drinks [are] yet to be established. This study is the first to show that the two together may be exacerbating some of the negative effects of binge drinking, that is reduction of fear and problems in social communication while intoxicated, which collectively increase the risk of fighting, violence and participation in risky behaviours," said co-author Matt Parker, of the University of Portsmouth.
So don’t mix your drinks, people. And don’t feed drinks to your finned friends either unless you want a brawl in the fish bowl.