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Wednesday
Nov032010

Massive Dose of Caffeine Kills British Man 

Photo Courtesy - Phusian Products(NOTTINGHAM, England) -- A 23-year-old British man died from what the coroner said was a dangerous dose of caffeine, according to British media reports.

Information from the coroner's inquest revealed Michael Lee Bedford ingested two spoonfuls of pure caffeine powder that he washed down with an energy drink. Coroner Dr. Nigel Chapman said the dose Bedford consumed was equivalent to 70 cans of Red Bull.

"This should serve as a warning that caffeine is so freely available on the Internet but so lethal if the wrong dosage is taken," Chapman said at the inquest.

A warning label on the product said only one-sixteenth of a teaspoon should be taken, but Bedford far exceeded that amount.

"He wasn't doing anything wrong, it was just the danger of the dose he took," said Chapman.

Though toxicologists in the U.S. say they're not aware of any cases of people overdosing on caffeine powder, they say caffeine overdoses are on the rise, thanks in large part to the wide availability of caffeine-loaded energy drinks. They believe that increased consumption of these drinks can lead to caffeine abuse, which can lead to significant illness, injury and even death.

"It's already a big problem," said Bruce Goldberger, professor and director of toxicology at the University of Florida College of Medicine. "We're a chemical-based society, because so many of us rely on psychotropic drugs to get by every day."

"We're seeing a lot more of it, and one of the reasons is, it's difficult to figure out how much stimulant is in some of these products," said Dr. Robert Hendrickson, medical toxicologist and emergency physician at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland.

Hendrickson explained there may be other ingredients in many energy drinks and supplements, such as taurine and guarana, that also have caffeine in them, but there's no indication of how much caffeine they contain.

Experts say there's been a rise in the number of caffeine-related illnesses because more and more people are taking caffeine for a variety of reasons.

"Students are using it for studying, people are using it to try and stay awake and participate in late night social activities," said Dr. Richard Clark, director of medical toxicology at UCSD Medical Center in San Diego, California. 

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