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Hello, Matt:

With all these energy drinks out lately and my full agenda, I've found myself hooked (on Red Bull). I'm up to one or two a day. What I'm wondering is how safe are they? Do they (whoever they are) know what the ingredients will do to us in the long run? I mean, is a doctor going to tell me that the reason I have grown an extra testicle is because I've consumed too much taurine?

-- Kurt, the net

Ha-ha, sucker. The first one was free, wasn't it. Now you're up to two a day. You're hooked. Hooked like a carp. Floppin' around on the deck wondering how you got into this situation. And how to get your sorry self out. Worst of all, Red Bull is bull. Red Bull is caffeine and sugar. Red Bull is just coffee in a can. SoBe, 180, all the rest of them, ditto. Do they give you energy? Ha. Caffeine buzz, sugar rush. Are they sports drinks? Would you drink a tall cup of Starbuck's house juice before a workout? How about the claim that they sharpen your mind? Yeah, same as a cuppa joe. Can you "party like a rock star"? Red Bull will not make you want to trash hotel rooms.

So what about Taurine? We already have plenty of that amino acid in our bodies. A smidge more won't hurt. Guarana? Just another form of caffeine. Ginseng? We can talk ourselves into believing anything is effective. Red Bull and vodka? Equals buzzed drunks who may not realize how drunk they really are. Doctors declare energy drinks (the ones without ephedra) safe in moderation and completely pointless. Except when you spend anywhere from $2 to $7 a can, when you definitely want to convince yourself it really works.

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