Documented Deaths By Caffeine
Fatalities from caffeine intake are rare. Death by an energy drink is even more rare due to the sheer amount of liquid that would need to be ingested at one time.
But alas, people have died from too much caffeine, so below we have posted some of the cases in which caffeine was the believed cause of death.
Death By Caffeine Pills
Caffeine pills are dangerous because they deliver a huge dose of caffeine that can be taken multiple times in a short period of time.
1. The death of a 19 year old Connecticut resident, James Stone, has been blamed on “caffeine toxicity”. The culprit was a dose of two dozen No-Doz tablets.
From the New Haven Register:
“I don’t want any other parent to go through what my wife and I have been through,” James Stone Sr. said. “It does not say on the bottle that it will kill you. It says right on the box that it’s like a cup of coffee.”
A quick tote up of the dose equates to about 4800 mg of caffeine (presumably these were the maximum strength No-Doz). As you can see on the box: “Safe as coffee”.
That’s not really true.
Caffeine in the form of this little pill hits you all at once. Drinking the equivalent in coffee takes considerably longer.
This is a tragic story – and serves as a warning. Don’t mess around with caffeine pills – especially if you have high blood pressure issues or heart problems.
2. 26 year old, Gemma Ann Jones from the UK, was found dead after she consumed 50-100 caffeine laden pills called EPH25. It appears that this caffeine death was a suicide.
These pills also contain ephedrine and other dangerous supplements as well as 200mg of caffeine. Link
3. Another woman from the UK, Katie Goard, also recently overdosed by taking diet pills. In this case the pill was called Fat Metaboliser and we are unsure how much caffeine is in each pill, but the coroner established that Katie consumed an equivalent to more than 50 cups of coffee.
Her family also reported that she was also drinking alcohol all evening long prior to her death. Src.
4. 24 year old Cara Reynolds from the UK recently overdosed on raspberry ketone pills that also contained 160 mg of caffeine each. This was an intentional overdose due to her mental state after breaking up with her boyfriend.
The coroner estimated her blood caffeine level to be equivalent to that of drinking 225 cans of Red Bull. Link.
Death by Caffeine Powder
An Ohio teenager, Logan Stiner, was found dead after ingesting a large dose of pure caffeine powder.
The coroner said that the young man’s blood had a caffeine concentration of 70 micrograms per milliliter of blood. (A normal dose of caffeine puts this at 1-15 micrograms per milliliter.) src.
Bulk caffeine powder is popular with bodybuilders and is gaining popularity among teens.
Death by Energy Drinks
1. A fatal case in Australia was researched in 2009. Between 8am and 3pm the 28 year old patient drank 7-8 cans of an unnamed energy drink. He collapsed at 3pm and suffered a fatal cardiac arrest. Researchers “…postulate a possible role of excessive consumption of caffeinated energy drinks in triggering the life-threatening cardiac events”.
2. A Nigerian man died after drinking 8 cans of Bullet Energy Drink. He did this as part of a bet to win less than 100usd. After he finished the last can, he became unconscious and was pronounced dead a short time later. It is unclear how much caffeine is in Bullet, but it seems comparable to that of a Red Bull. Source.
The FDA is investigating 13 deaths that have been attributed to 5 Hour Energy Shot over the last four years.
Death by Monster
1. A tragic fatality occurred in the US in 2011 after a 14 year old girl consumed two 24 ounce cans of Monster (480mg caffeine) before going into cardiac arrest.
2. In 2013 a mother filed a lawsuit against Monster for the death of her 19 year old son. He consumed 3 Monsters in the 24 hours prior to his death and about 2 to 3 a day for the last 3 years. Three 16 oz. Monsters would contain 480 milligrams of caffeine.
Reported Deaths Related to Caffeine Overdose
The American Association of Poison Control Centers tracks all the calls they receive from intentional or accidental overdose of all kinds of substances and drugs including caffeine and energy drinks.
Here is their latest data published in 2014 for the year 2013.
|Energy Product||Single Exposures||Adults 20+||Children < 20||Deaths|
(caffeine any source)
*The ages of some of the individuals were unknown.
The above data tells us that there are indeed people ingesting too much caffeine from products like energy drinks, coffee, and caffeine pills.
The majority of these incidents are happening to those under the age of 20, which is somewhat alarming.
Luckily for the majority of those involved, there were no reported deaths as the result of caffeine consumption in 2013 as reported by the AAPCC, but 1,182 people were treated at a medical facility as the result of the exposure with 12 people experiencing major negative health symptoms.
While real death by caffeine does occur, but it is extremely rare.