Caffeine Kills 18 Year Old

According to CBS News Correspondent Don Dahler, 18-year-old Logan Stiner of Ohio was found dead in his home, days before his high school graduation. Coroner Stephen Evans determined that the cause of death was a legal dosage of pure caffeine, stating, “We had never seen this before.” Evans reported that Stiner was a healthy young man and a high school wrestler, but that the amount of caffeine in his system at the time of death caused a cardiac arrhythmia and ultimately, a seizure. Although autopsy results did not reveal anything, additional blood tests concluded that Stiner had more than 70 micrograms of caffeine in his system.

Pure caffeine powder is readily available for purchase on the Internet, and because it is labeled as a supplement, it is not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. An examination of bags of pure caffeine indicates that the recommended dosage is 250 milligrams, or one-sixth of a teaspoon, which is equivalent to three cans of Red Bull. However, if an individual takes one full teaspoon, it would be as though he or she is consuming 50 cans of Red Bull or 32 mugs of coffee at one time. Estimates as to how many teaspoons it would take to kill an adult vary from one to three, but it would take much less to kill a child.

A clinical toxicologist at the Poison Control Center at the University of Kansas reported that the form of caffeine that killed Logan is easy enough to purchase; Tama Sawyer stated that it could be found on Amazon for $12.95. However, while caffeine is not only available in powdered form–as several retailers also sell drink mixes containing caffeine, the difference is that the mixes are contained in measured pouches or bottles. The pure powder must be measured by the individual consuming the product, which may be the likely cause for an overdose.

What is most frightening, according to CBS News Contributor Dr. Tara Narula, is that almost everyone believes that caffeine is safe because it is found everywhere. Unfortunately, that misconception can have severe and sometimes fatal consequences. The message for children, adolescents, and adults is to understand that when people consume products that are not FDA-regulated, they may not be fully aware of how much of that product’s ingredients they are ingesting, and they may be uninformed of other potentially dangerous substances that could be mixed into the product.

Advertising of caffeine supplements such as energy drinks can be enticing, particularly for older children or adolescents who often want to fit in and feel good about themselves. Additionally, older teens or college-aged kids often buy into the marketing hype that promises mental alertness since people can “sprinkle” energy on anything. However, while they may believe that they are consuming a product that is safe, they often fail to recognize that in these harmful, unregulated doses, it can be deadly. Many medical experts believe that powdered caffeine must be regulated more closely as it is the number one stimulant drug in the U.S. and can be abused just like any other product.