Can too many energy drinks be deadly?

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Can too many energy drinks be deadly?

Post by Anaxagoras » Thu Dec 24, 2015 4:58 am

What do you think of this story?

Japanese man dies after daily heavy consumption of caffeinated beverages
A Kyushu man in his 20s died last year from caffeine intoxication after drinking large quantities of caffeinated beverages daily over a long period to fight fatigue, researchers at Fukuoka University said.

Although something, possibly part of a caffeine pill, was extracted from his stomach, his death was most likely caused by consuming too many caffeinated drinks, according to the university’s forensic medicine faculty.

Because there was no sign of a deliberate overdose, the man’s death was considered accidental.

According to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, it is apparently the first reported case in Japan of a fatal caffeine overdose caused by the consumption of drinks.

“We had never heard of fatal caffeine intoxication,” the ministry said.

The man apparently consumed caffeinated soft drinks in large quantities to stay awake.

A company that sells one such product has warned against drinking large amounts of the beverage in a short period of time, and to avoid consuming the product along with alcohol, which can cause side effects.

More than a dozen lethal cases of caffeine poisoning have been reported in the United States, where drinks containing high amounts of caffeine are readily available.

While the government has set no criteria for acceptable intake levels, some experts had speculated that there could be similar deaths in Japan.

According to the Food Safety Commission, an arm of the Cabinet Office, a healthy adult should generally avoid drinking more than three cups of coffee a day, while a child between 4 and 6 years old should consume no more than a single 350-ml can of cola.

According to the Fukuoka University forensic medicine faculty, the man was working at a 24-hour gas station from midnight until dawn. After finishing a shift, he would stay awake until the following evening and then sleep until it was time to go to work again.

He often consumed an energy drink containing caffeine and had experienced vomiting several times in the year prior to his death, a symptom of caffeine intoxication.

On the day he died, he was sleeping after returning home and later vomited. He was sent to the hospital but died. It is uncertain what quantity of energy drinks he had consumed.

Shinichi Kubo, a professor of forensic medicine at the university, concluded that the man had died from a caffeine overdose and reported the results to the police after carrying out an examination.

While no other illness or abnormality was recognized, a small amount of alcohol was found in the man’s blood and a high concentration of caffeine was contained in his gastric residuals, blood and urine.

As there were no signs of foul play a legal autopsy could not be performed.

As a result, the university was unable to run an extensive study on part of a pill, apparently a caffeine tablet, found in his stomach and discover how it contributed to the man’s death.
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Re: Can too many energy drinks be deadly?

Post by Doctor X » Thu Dec 24, 2015 5:10 am

Yup. From Wiki:

Holmgren P, Nordén-Pettersson L, Ahlner J., "Caffeine fatalities – four case reports,"Forensic Science International (2004) 139 (1): 71–3.

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Re: Can too many energy drinks be deadly?

Post by Rob Lister » Thu Dec 24, 2015 10:50 am

Other sources say the human LD50 for caffeine is ~150-200mg/kg. An average person is 70kg. So roughly 12,500mg. An AMP Energy drink has 74mg. A cup of [good] coffee is actually more: ~100mg. So 125 cups of coffee. But if he was drinking it all day every day and popping caffeine pills to boot who the fuck knows. Seems a bit unfair to blame energy drinks.

Does anyone follow this:
As there were no signs of foul play a legal autopsy could not be performed.

As a result, the university was unable to run an extensive study on part of a pill, apparently a caffeine tablet, found in his stomach and discover how it contributed to the man’s death.
Weird reporting or some kind of weird law?

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Re: Can too many energy drinks be deadly?

Post by Anaxagoras » Thu Dec 24, 2015 11:37 am

Don't know anything about the laws governing autopsies I'm afraid.
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Re: Can too many energy drinks be deadly?

Post by Anaxagoras » Thu Dec 24, 2015 11:42 am

Per wiki:
Caffeine is classified by the Food and Drug Administration as "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS). Toxic doses, over 10 grams per day for an adult, are much higher than typical dose of under 500 milligrams per day. A cup of coffee contains 80–175 mg of caffeine, depending on what "bean" (seed) is used and how it is prepared (e.g. drip, percolation, or espresso). Thus it requires roughly 50–100 ordinary cups of coffee to reach a lethal dose. However pure powdered caffeine, which is available as a dietary supplement, can be lethal in tablespoon-sized amounts.
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Re: Can too many energy drinks be deadly?

Post by Doctor X » Thu Dec 24, 2015 4:13 pm

Anaxagoras wrote:Don't know anything about the laws governing autopsies I'm afraid.
I know [From a Quincy episode.--Ed.] Hush! that there are very severe cultural resistance to autopsy in Asian societies in general--as well as many others. You are cutting up a body which violates a hell of a lot of taboos. In the US {USA!USA!USA!} Shhh! [Get on with it!--Ed.] one can force an autopsy, but with all things you have to have a reason as in you may have to obtain a court order. This does not just mean "potential murder," coroners also have a duty to determine whether or not someone has died from something that can threaten other people.

Japan may not have that law--or it may very well be that absent evidences--どうもう--of homicide the law cannot demand an autopsy. Pure speculation, but unless there is also evidences--ありがと--of a communicable disease/toxin or something like that, the law may also be unable to demand an autopsy.

Finally, laws are enforced by people. Even in US, a coroner who shares the mores of a family may be reticent to challenge them without a compelling reason.

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