High caffeine energy under scrutiny after deaths

New scrutiny has been given to high caffeine energy drinks. Here is an update to a story from last year involving the death of a 14 yr old after two Monster beverages.

Monster Says There’s No Proof Caffeine Killed Teen Girl – The Consumerist.

The lawsuit states that the teenager went into cardiac arrest after drinking two, 24-ounce cans of Monster during one 24-hour period. But a lawyer for the beverage company tells the AP that physicians hired to review the medical records say the young woman died of natural causes brought on by pre-existing heart conditions, and that the caffeine toxicity claim on the autopsy was based on statements made by the girl’s mother.

The official cause of death listed on the autopsy is “cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity complicating mitral valve regurgitation in the setting of Ehler’s-Danlos syndrome,” which would seem to indicate that the combination of caffeine and the heart condition resulted in death. When reached by the AP, the medical examiner’s could not immediately confirm whether a blood test had been performed to check for caffeine levels.

There are no standards for caffeinated beverages and the companies still assert that they are safe. The mother of this child is not pleased, claiming that the physicians were shills. She seeks a jury trial. *Sigh.*

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Originally published Oct 22, 2012

FDA: 5 reported deaths with Monster drink link.

The highly caffeinated Monster Energy Drink has been cited in five deaths and one non-fatal heart attack, according to reports that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is investigating.

The reports claim that people had adverse reactions after they consumed Monster Energy Drink, which comes in 24-ounce cans and contains 240 milligrams of caffeine, or seven times the amount of the caffeine in a 12-ounce cola.

Although the FDA is investigating the allegations, which date back to 2004, the agency said the reports don’t necessarily prove that the drinks caused the deaths or injuries.

News of the FDA’s investigation follows a filing last week of a wrongful death suit in Riverside, Calif., by the parents of a 14-year-old Hagerstown girl who died after drinking two, 24-ounce Monster Energy Drinks in 24 hours.

An autopsy concluded that she died of cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity and the medical examiner also found that she had an inherited disorder that can weaken blood vessels. But the child’s parents claim Monster failed to warn about the risks of drinking its products.

Did these victims already have pre-existing conditions that these energy drinks could have triggered? Is it OK to assume the energy drinks were the main culprit of these deaths? Since there already ARE warnings on the cans, the claims of NO warning does not seem to stand up.

There are NOT warning labels on cups of coffee. A person who drinks two grande sized Starbucks coffees in 24 hours will receive significantly more caffeine. Caffeine is a drug. An unknown underlying health condition is a risk. We all live with some degree of risk and must act accordingly. Sadly, some circumstances will coincide for the worst. I don’t think more warning labels will matter.

Tip: Steve Liberace

UPDATE (15-Nov-2012) NY Times has a piece on allegations against another high-caffeine energy drink.

In an interview Wednesday, Daniel Fabricant, the director of the agency’s division of dietary supplement programs, said the agency was looking into the death reports that cited 5-Hour Energy. He said that while medical information in such reports could rule out a link with the product, other reports could contain insufficient information to determine what role, if any, a supplement might have played.

Mr. Fabricant said that the 13 fatality reports that mentioned 5-Hour Energy had all been submitted to the F.D.A. by Living Essentials.

Once again, the details are not clear if the deaths were directly related to the caffeine in the drinks and may reflect an underlying health issue of the victims. However, this again raises the questions about health risks of such products.

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  6 comments for “High caffeine energy under scrutiny after deaths

  1. October 23, 2012 at 12:37 PM

    How many people have died from air pollution this year? How many people have died from auto accidents? As with all things in life – moderation is suggested.

  2. steve
    October 23, 2012 at 4:14 PM

    Caffeine toxicity at 240mg? Was this girl an infant? That is 2.4 cups of coffee over 24hrs. It’s 1pm and I’m at 400mg. This was not caffeine toxicity.

    • October 23, 2012 at 4:25 PM

      If you have some sort of preexisting condition though, it might be advisable to lay off the stimulants. Maybe some don’t need much? Why do people drink decaf?

      • steve
        October 23, 2012 at 4:49 PM

        I’m not a doctor but caffeine meddling with a preexisting condition might not be called caffeine toxicity, but I could be wrong.

        Just found this site from JREF. Love it, and your username.

        • October 23, 2012 at 5:18 PM

          Ah, yes. I see your point.

          Lots of people drink more than one of these in 24 hours and don’t die.

  3. Mr. Shreck
    November 15, 2012 at 12:37 PM

    The energy drink hysteria is a witch hunt in my opinion, the intersection of individual tragedies with bored reporters and regulators. As a comparison, consider 3443 annual deaths contributed to by NSAIDs (e.g. aspirin, ibuprofen).

    http://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/ac/02/briefing/3882B2_02_McNeil-NSAID.htm

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