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Can Caffeine Kill You? Answer Was Yes for South Carolina Teen

Can caffeine kill you? It's a question pondered occasionally but never really taken seriously in the food and medical communities.

That, however, will likely change following the death of a 16-year-old Davis Allen Cripe, who passed away last month after what is being called a “caffeine-induced cardiac event.”  

According to USA Today, the South Carolina teen collapsed in a classroom after ingesting a large Diet Mountain Dew, a cafe latte from McDonald’s, and an energy drink over the course of two hours. The coroner found that the teen was healthy and had no family history of medical problems that that amount of caffeine could have worsened.

Unfortunately, sadly, this may be a terrible and fatal combination of body chemistry and caffeine. According to the county coroner:

“You can have five people line up right here and all of them do the exact same thing that happened with him that day — drink more — and it may not have any kind of effect on them at all.”

Caffeine overdoses are rare but county officials did stress that caffeine and energy drinks should be approached with caution. A few studies have found that energy drinks can elevate blood pressure levels for longer periods than caffeine and that energy drinks can elevate blood pressure and stress hormone levels of healthy young adults. In fact, federal guidelines prevent the sale of energy drinks on school campuses.

Still, the "Is coffee healthy?" question remains, as caffeeine lovers are left wondering whether they should reduce or altogether halt their intake. The deputy chief medical examiner of Richland County (where the teen passed away), reinforces the above findings, noting that several factors affect individual risk:

“A cup of coffee, a can of soda isn’t going to cause this thing. It’s the amount and also the time frame in which these caffeinated beverages are consumed that can put you at risk.”

Our hearts go out to Davis’ community.

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