Men with prostate cancer who are on anti-androgen drugs have something in common with chemical athletes who’ve just finished a course of steroids: they have hardly any testosterone in their body and as a result feel listless and under the weather. Urologists at the University of Toronto in Canada have discovered that men on anti-androgen therapy at least function better if they drink two cans of Red Bull daily.
The Canadians did an experiment with 18 men, all of whom had been taking LHRH agonists for at least six months. Frequent doses of LHRH agonists halt testosterone production, but the treatment inhibits androgen-sensitive forms of prostate cancer.
For men, deactivating testosterone is a pretty big step. One side effect of anti-androgen therapy is serious fatigue, which, according to some studies, 84 percent of prostate cancer patients experience. As a result of lower amounts of energy, these people’s quality of life also decreases. The researchers wondered whether energy drinks might help.
The researchers gave their subjects 2 cans containing 250 ml Red Bull Sugarfree every day. The men drank the contents of one can at 10 o’clock in the morning and of the other at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. Each can of Red Bull Sugarfree contained 1 g taurine, 80 mg caffeine and 100 percent of the RDA of vitamin B2, B3, B5, B6 and B12. There was no control group.
The researchers asked the men to score their tiredness on a scale of 0 to 10, on which 0 represented ‘no fatigue’ and 10 ‘worst possible fatigue’. The men who had drunk Red Bull for four weeks were less tired and by a statistically significant amount.
A reduction of two on the scale is also clinically relevant, which indicates that drinking Red Bull really had an effect on the men.
The researchers also asked the men about their energy levels and got them to fill in eight questionnaires. The higher the score, the better the men’s functioning. The table below shows that using energy drinks improved the subjects’ functioning in three areas.
“This preliminary work suggests that Red Bull Sugar-Free drinks might have a positive impact on both fatigue levels and quality of life in men treated with an LHRH agonist”, the researchers wrote. “In addition, on short-term follow-up, these drinks seemed to be safe and well tolerated.”
“However, randomized placebo-controlled trials with longer follow-up periods will be required to validate the findings of this study and to confirm the long-term safety of Red Bull Sugar-Free drinks in a similar population. Nonetheless, this study is the first to suggest such a benefit in this population.”
Impact of Energy Drinks on Androgen Deprivation–Induced Fatigue: Results of a Pilot Study
A large proportion of men treated with luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) agonist suffer from fatigue. Energy drinks were developed for use during periods of increased mental and physical exertion. This study evaluated whether energy drinks would alleviate fatigue in men treated with LHRH agonist for a period of at least 6 months.
A single-center, phase II, open-label trial was performed in which men with LHRH agonist–related fatigue were given two cans of Red Bull® Sugar-Free energy drink daily for a period of 4 weeks. Fatigue levels were evaluated using the Bruera global fatigue severity scale, while quality of life was evaluated using the RAND 36-Item Health Survey 1.0 (SF-36). Improvement was compared using a paired t-test.
Twenty men were recruited to participate in the trial. Of these, 19 were randomized. During the course of the trial, one participant dropped out before the end of the trial due to an adverse event. After a 4 week treatment period, the average fatigue levels were significantly improved (p=0.001) in comparison to baseline levels: from a score of 6 (IQR 3–8) to a score of 3.1 (±2.1). In the SF-36 survey, the vitality domain, an assessment of energy and fatigue, was significantly improved at week 4 (p=0.006).
Energy drinks appear to have a significant effect on fatigue level and on quality of life in men treated with LHRH agonist for prostate cancer. In addition, on short-term follow-up, they appear to be safe and well tolerated. Randomized placebo-controlled trials will be required to validate these findings.