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Adding Caffeine To Alcohol-Laced Energy Drinks Offers No Protective Benefit

January 14, 2011: 12:04 PM EST

Adding caffeine to alcoholic energy drink did not enhance performance on a driving test, nor did it improve sustained attention or reaction times, according to a U.S. study published at a time of increased government scrutiny of energy drinks mixed with alcohol. For the study, researchers randomly assigned 129 participants, ages 21 to 30, to four groups that consumed either caffeinated beer, non-caffeinated beer, caffeinated non-alcoholic beer or non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic beer. Those who drank the alcoholic beverages had a higher-than-legal average blood alcohol level of .12. Participants were then tested using a driving simulator and the Psychomotor Vigilance Task (PVT) test for sustained attention/reaction time. The researchers concluded that there was "little or no protective benefit from the addition of caffeine to alcohol …”

Jonathan Howland, et al. , "The acute effects of caffeinated versus non-caffeinated alcoholic beverage on driving performance and attention/reaction time", Addiction, January 14, 2011, © The Authors
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