A story making the rounds of the media this week concerns a 14 year old girl who died from cardiac arrhythmia recently. The girl had an underlying cardiac condition, mitral valve prolapse, which contributed to her death. Her death certificate stated that the cause of death was due to caffeine toxicity. She consumed two 24-ounce Monster energy drinks on the day before her death. Predictably, the maker of Monster energy drinks is now being sued by the girl’s family.
How much caffeine is too much?
According to the Mayo clinic, Monster drinks contain 10 mg of caffeine per ounce. This is a little over three times what Coca-Cola contains. A 12-ounce can of Coke has 35 mg of caffeine total. By drinking two 24-ounce cans of Monster, the girl imbibed 480 mg of caffeine. Four cans of Coke would have given her 140 mg of caffeine.
Now let’s compare that to coffee. Brewed coffee contains between 95 and 200 mg of caffeine per 8-ounce cup. McDonalds is on the low end of the range, Starbucks is on the high end. If we choose the average, 24 ounces of coffee would give you a caffeine dose of 450 mg, comparable to what the girl got from twice as much Monster drink.
We are left with the proposition that the equivalent of three cups of strong coffee induced caffeine toxicity in a fourteen year old. This seems a bit of a stretch for anyone except a trial lawyer to claim.
As a result of the widespread media attention, the shares of Monster’s parent company dropped 10% this week.