1. Michael Lee Bedford
Michael Lee Bedford was a 23 year old British man who died tragically in 2010 after swallowing two spoonfuls of anhydrous caffeine powder and chased it with an energy drink. The caffeine content of this fatal cocktail was said to amount to 70 cans of red bull. The recommended dosage for the caffeine powder was only one-sixteenth of a teaspoon. Anhydrous caffeine powder is a bitter-tasting and highly concentrated drug. The warning label on one brand advises not to exceed 200 mg in 24 hours (which is about 1/10th of a teaspoon). Bedford obtained the powder at a party from a friend and according to witness accounts, became ill 15 minutes after ingesting it. He vomitted blood and began sweating profusely. His speech was slurred and incoherent and EMTs were promptly called to the scene. Bedford’s death serves as a cautionary tale for the importance of always reading product warning labels.
2. Anais Fournier
Anais was a 14 year old girl living in Hagerstown, Maryland. She enjoyed reading vampire novels, had a boyfriend, a twin brother and little sister. It was some time around Christmas in 2011 when Anais died after drinking two 24 ounce cannisters of monster energy drink within a 24 hour span. She drank one the night before while at the mall with friends and the other on the following afternoon while relaxing at home where she went into cardiac arrest. Doctors induced her into a coma in order to prevent swelling in her brain but six days later, Anais was declared dead. Official cause of death was “cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity.” Her mother told reporters how she had admonished her daughter about consuming energy drinks. It is believed that Anais’ tragic death was likely due to a pre-exisiting heart condition known as mitral valve prolapse. MVP is fairly common and affects 1 in 20 Americans but her doctor did not consider her to be at risk. According to the National Institute of Health, “Much of the time, MVP doesn’t cause any problems.”
3. Logan Steiner
Just days before his Highschool graduation, Logan Steiner was found dead in his home in LaGrange, Ohio. He was an honors student and prom king who in the days leading up to his death, was burning the candle at both ends trying to prepare for exam finals. In an effort to power himself through his academic demands, Logan turned to caffeine powder purchased from Amazon. On May 27, 2014, he was found by his brother lying unresponsive on the living room floor. The medical examiner cited the cause of death as “cardiac arrhythmia and seizure, due to acute caffeine toxicity due to excessive caffeine ingestion.” Pure caffeine powder is highly potent and it’s believed that Logan miscalculated the prescribed dosage and ingested a fatal amount. One teaspoon of powdered caffeine can contain 1,600 milligrams. As little as 10 grams of caffeine is enough to induce death, but this figure varies based on other factors such as a person’s caffeine sensitivity.
4. Unamed Japanese Man
In 2014, a twenty-something year old man in Kyushu, Japan succumbed from caffeine intoxication. He became the first known case of caffeine-related death in his country. The man worked the night shift from midnight to dawn at a 24-hour gas station. After completing his shift, it is reported that he did not go to sleep until the following afternoon. It is believed that he consumed excessive amounts of caffeine over a period of years to combat sleepiness and fatigue. On the day he died, he began vomiting and was sent to the hospital where he was declared dead. His death was ruled as accidental and not due to any other pre-existing illness or abnormality. In addition to high concentrations of caffeine and alcohol found in his blood and urine, forensics also found in his stomach traces of what was possibly caffeine pills.
5. Dustin Hood
In 2015, 19 year old Dustin Hood perished after binging on monster drinks. According to reports, Dustin drank 3 and a half 24-ounce canisters of monster energy drink within the span of 24 hours. He consumed roughly 735 mg of caffeine which is similar to that of 7 cups of coffee. He headed to a basketball court where he later collapsed from cardiac arrhythmia. Doctors attempted to resuscitate Dustin but he was declared dead at the hospital. It’s not known if Hood had any preexisting heart condition or other malady, that could have made him more susceptible to the cardiac arrhythmia that killed him. Dustin’s father has subsequently filed a lawsuit against monster seeking unspecified damages.
6. Cara Reynolds
Cara Reynolds was a 24 year old nurse living in the United Kingdom. Standing at 5’4″ with a size 10 physique, she was not an over-weight woman. Despite this, she desired to shed some pounds and purchased slimming pills from Amazon. She bought Forza raspberry ketones, a supplement that contained 250 mg of caffeine per serving – about as much as 4 cans of 8 oz. red bulls. Weeks after taking the pills, Cara experienced frightening heart palpitations and told her father she would discontinue using the product for weight loss. On March 5, 2013 Cara suffered a seizure after overdosing on ketone pills, having ingested an amount of caffeine tantamount to 225 cans of red bull. She vomited until she fell unconscious and was rushed to the hospital where doctors made 44 attempts to resuscitate her. Cara eventually died from cardiovascular collapse. Cara’s recent split from her fiance is believed to have led to her fateful overdose.
7. Honoré de Balzac
Long before there was Red Bull or Monster, coffee was the primary source of caffeine, and a drug of choice for many artists and writers. Honoré de Balzac was one such writer and an avid fan of strong black coffee consumed on an empty stomach. Balzac was a 19th Century French novelist and playwright best noted for his magnum opus La Comédie humaine. He was enamored with this dark potion and unabashedly sung it’s praises. He wrote eloquently of it’s fantastic properties and effects on him and he was rumored to have chugged up to 50 cups a day. It is believed that his coffee habit was what led to his death which according to accounts from people close to him, was preceded by profuse sweating, extreme weakness, stomach cramps, headaches, nervous twitches, and hypertension. He died August 18, 1850 at the age of 51 from heart failure due to caffeine poisoning.
8. John Jackson
In May 2013, a 40 year old U.K man named John Jackson was discovered dead in his flat by his former partner. Medical examiners found that Jackson had 155mg of caffeine per liter of blood in his system. Just 10mg would have been considered an overdose. He had consumed an enormous amount of Hero energy mints purchased from a local shop prior to death. Each mint contained 80 mg of caffeine equivalent to that of an 8 oz. can of red bull. Jackson was a former painter and decorator and was reputed to have been a heavy drinker who suffered from cirrhosis of the liver. Due to the poor condition of his liver, his body would have been less able to filter toxins from the body and this could have contributed to his demise as coroners also found traces of other substances in his system.
9. Gemma Ann Jones
Gemma was a 26 year old woman who in 2013 was found dead in her home in Wales. She died from caffeine toxicity after swallowing 100 cups of espresso worth of caffeine pills. Gemma often texted messages to her friend Martin Lloyd expressing signs of depression. On November 18, Martin drove to Gemma’s home on a gut feeling that something was wrong after Gemma failed to return any of his phone messages. He found her car parked in the driveway but she did not answer the front door. After a obtaining a key from a neighbor, Martin entered the home to find Gemma laying on her side in bed with her face down on the pillow. There was a brown residue by her mouth. Martin was instructed to perform CPR by the emergency call support but by then Gemma was already dead. Toxicology tests showed she had ingested 50 – 100 tablets of EPH. EPH is a fat burner supplement containing ephedra. 79 tablets is considered to be lethal.
10. James Stone
James Stone was a healthy, responsible 19 year old from Wallingford Connecticut. Amid the economic downturn of the late 2000s, he was searching for work, putting in numerous applications like many others did. To fuel the intense job hunting effort, James took nearly 2 dozen No-Doz tablets within a short time span to stay awake and alert. Each tablet contained around 200 mg of caffeine and the amount he ingested was equal to roughly 48 cups of coffee. On November 27, 2006, James went to the bathroom and collapsed from a heart attack. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Connecticut deemed the heart attack to have been brought on by “caffeine toxicity”. Since James’ death, his parents have sought to have better warning labels featured on caffeine products. “I’m not looking for any money or any sympathy,” James Stone Sr. said. “I just don’t think it’s right that people don’t know that this kind of thing can happen.”