A fluke of tragic proportions befell a South Carolina high school student back in April.
Sixteen-year-old Davis Allen Cripe passed away after pounding a Diet Mountain Dew, an energy drink of undetermined brand, and a McDonald’s cafe latte within 120 minutes, according to a local news outlet. A coroner quoted by the source said the combination of seemingly benign beverages induced a “cardiac event” that led to Cripe collapsing in his high school classroom.
Cripe was evidently perfectly healthy before the incident, and the first individual in the recorded history of South Carolina to die under caffeine-related circumstances, according to reports.
Nonetheless, the situation serves as a grim reminder that overindulgence in caffeine can, in rare cases, be as deadly as any other drug. And due to the increased popularity and visibility of delicious, refreshing energy drinks, physicians are reminding us to be cautious.
“Most people can safely take in about 400 milligrams of caffeine daily, or about four cups of coffee,” Robert Glatter, an emergency physician in New York City, told USA Today.
Certain varieties of energy drink — including some brands beloved by members of the Midnight Pulp blogging staff — contain more than 200 milligrams in a single can. That means two or more of these tasty pick-me-ups in an afternoon could challenge the threshold of what constitutes safe levels of consumption.
“For adults, it would be uncommon to experience effects of caffeine intoxication at less than 250 milligrams of caffeine,” or approximately two-and-a-half cups of coffee, by Glatter’s estimate. “It would typically be more…common to have the negative effects with greater than 500 milligrams of caffeine.”
Glatter noted that varying quantities of caffeine affect individuals differently on a case-to-case basis, so it’s difficult to nail down a universal baseline for exactly how much is too much. But he seems more-or-less sure that five cups of coffee in a sitting is inadvisable for everyone.
He also stated emphatically that mixing alcohol and caffeine is generally a bad idea, as should be common knowledge to anyone who’s piled a substance designed to make them feel speedy on top of a depressant.
We’re not going to sit here and tell readers to swear off their favorite stimulants. But we’d be bereft in our duties if we didn’t issue a reminder that, as is the case with all things, moderation is key.