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I've seen hundreds of reports, from various sources online claiming that Red Bull contains a substance that causes cancer and that so far it may have killed three people. However I believe in most cases this has been due to exceeding the recommended allowance and I'm looking for reports of Red Bull being consumed in moderation.

Sources

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TLDR: All the ingredients have approval to be in the drink and have had toxicity testing done. However the scope of this testing is considered to be limited in certain cases and there may be a risk at the quantities included in certain energy drinks.


According to the Red Bull website:

Red Bull contains taurine, glucuronolactone, caffeine, B vitamins, sucrose, and glucose.

Red Bull sugar-free also contains aspartame, acesulfame K, and sucralose in place of sucrose and glucose.

This study Opinion on Caffeine, Taurine and D-Glucurono - g -Lactone as constituents of so-called "energy" drinks (expressed on 21 January 1999) published by the EU looked specifically at "the safety of caffeine, taurine and D-glucurono- g -lactone as constituents of so-called "energy" drinks."

And found the following:

Caffeine

It concluded at that time that there was no apparent reason for concern about carcinogenic or mutagenic effects of caffeine in man at normal levels of intake.

Taurine

Toxicological studies did not reveal any indication for a genotoxic, carcinogenic or teratogenic potential of taurine. 52-64 However, there is no adequate study on chronic toxicity/carcinogenicity. Investigation of subacute/subchronic toxicity has also been fragmentary. 65-71 Overall, the available data are insufficient to establish an upper safe level for daily intake of taurine.

g-Lactone

The available toxicity studies are extremely limited. Acute toxicity studies have been carried out in rat, mouse, dog, rabbit and cat by oral, intravenous, intraperitoneal and subcutaneous routes. 76 It is of low acute toxicity, with the oral route being the least toxic;

However

Human metabolic considerations indicate the body is likely to handle small quantities of glucuronolactone without any problems. However, the intake of glucuronolactone from consumption of some "energy" drinks is possibly as much as two orders of magnitude greater than that from the rest of the diet. There is very little information available for risk assessment of glucuronolactone at such intakes. While there is no indication from the available data that there is any risk to health from consumption of high amounts of glucuronolactone, there is a lack of scientific evidence to support the safety of glucuronolactone present in beverages at concentrations that may result in intakes as much as two orders of magnitude greater than that obtained from the rest of the diet. As was the case with taurine, there is insufficient information on which to set an upper safe level for daily intake of glucuronolactone.

Aspartame

Taken from Borror0's answer to this question Does aspartame cause cancer?:

According to the National Health Institute, there is no evidence suggesting aspartame causes cancer:

  • A study of about half a million people, published in 2006, compared people who drank aspartame-containing beverages with those who did not. Results of the study showed that increasing levels of consumption were not associated with any risk of lymphomas, leukemias, or brain cancers in men or women. (Question 2)

  • Researchers examined the relationship between aspartame intake and 1,888 lymphomas or leukemias and 315 malignant brain cancers among the participants of the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study from 1995 until 2000. Development of these cancers was not associated with estimated aspartame consumption, refuting a recent animal study with positive findings for lymphomas and leukemias and also contradicting claims regarding brain cancer risk. (Questions 3 and 8)

Acesulfame K

From cancer.gov:

Acesulfame potassium (also known as ACK, Sweet One®, and Sunett®) was approved by the FDA in 1988 for use in specific food and beverage categories, and was later approved as a general purpose sweetener (except in meat and poultry) in 2002.

Before approving these sweeteners, the FDA reviewed more than 100 safety studies that were conducted on each sweetener, including studies to assess cancer risk. The results of these studies showed no evidence that these sweeteners cause cancer or pose any other threat to human health.

However there are several journals etc. that say testing on artificial Acesulfame K was conducted in the past, was limited in scope and more modern equipment and testing methods area available and more adequate long-term carcinogenicity testing should be conducted.

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