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The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating five deaths that may be linked to Monster Energy drinks and 13 deaths that may linked to 5-hour Energy.  According to recent tests, some energy drinks contain dangerously high levels of caffeine.  In addition to potentially causing wrongful death, one study indicates that more than 13,000 people are treated in emergency rooms every year due to symptoms linked to their consumption of energy drinks.  The FDA has received 90 reports of adverse events involving 5-hour Energy since 2009, including 30 serious or life-threatening incidents, including heart attacks, convulsions, and spontaneous abortion.

Tests by Consumer Reports show that some energy drinks contain twice as much caffeine per serving than an 8-ounce cup of coffee.  The tests revealed that caffeine levels in these drinks ranged from 6 milligrams to 242 milligrams per serving, and some of the drinks contain more than one serving.  By way of comparison, an 8-ounce cup of coffee has approximately 100 milligrams of caffeine while a 16-ounce Starbucks Grande contains 330 milligrams. The FDA allows soft drinks to contain up to 71 mg. of caffeine per 12 ounces and requires manufacturers to prove the safety of any higher amounts. According to the FDA, energy drinks contain anywhere from 160 to 500 milligrams of caffeine per serving, but because they are classified as dietary supplements, energy drinks are not regulated by that agency.

The family of a 14-year-old girl who died soon after she consumed Monster energy drink has filed a wrongful death suit against the drink maker.  The teenager was reported to have consumed two 24-ounce Monster energy drinks in a 24 hour period.  Her autopsy listed her cause of death as “cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity.”  The teen girl had an underlying heart condition–a condition which makes excessive caffeine more dangerous–but she was never advised by her physician to limit caffeine consumption.

Excessive caffeine consumption can cause adverse physical and mental reactions, including restlessness, tremors, palpitations, nervousness, and potentially life threatening changes to cardiac rhythms. When consumed in high enough amounts over a period of time, caffeine can cause changes in blood flow and affect the body’s ability to regulate sugars from food.

For more information, contact the Ohio wrongful death attorneys at Clark, Perdue & List.

Source: MoneyTalksNews, “Are Energy Drinks Worse Than We Thought?” Jeffrey Trull, October 29, 2012.