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'Death by Caffeine': 354 cans of red Coke would kill this journalist

By Ben Bouckley+

12-Feb-2013
Last updated on 14-Feb-2013 at 08:21 GMT

Screenshot taken from EnergyFiend.com
Screenshot taken from EnergyFiend.com

It would take 354 cans of classic Coke to kill me, or alternatively 174 cans of Pepsi Max, according to a 'death by caffeine' calculator hosted on an intriguing US website.

BeverageDaily.com today found the site EnergyFiend.com, which professes to tell consumers how much of a given soda, energy drink or caffeinated food “it would take to kill you”

Based upon the site’s weight-adjusted calculations, if I drank 354 cans of standard Coke it would kill me.

Explaining the rationale for this calculation, a spokesman for the website told BeverageDaily.com: "The death by caffeine calculations are explained by clicking the "help" icon and then the 'science' heading."

The spokesman added: "Here's what it states, 'This tool demonstrates the risks of caffeine in high doses. While it’s virtually impossible to hold a lethal amount of caffeinated liquid in your system at one time, overdosing on caffeine can make you very sick. Do not be stupid.'"

"The calculator is based on a lethal dose of caffeine (LD50) consumed orally being equivalent to 150 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. This is compounded by individual sensitivity."

Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, Mountain Dew...

The site authors add that the ‘Death by Caffeine’ calculator  "started as a fun tool. However, it is now a serious reminder of the toxicity of caffeine in higher doses”.

People have died after overdosing on caffeine pills, and over-consumption of high-caffeinated energy drinks has made headlines over the last few years,” they add.

Article update 02/13/13: Michael Chrosniak asked me on the BeverageDaily.com Facebook page why I chose Coke. "What about Pepsi? Mt Dew, Sunkist Orange, Dr Pepper, Diet Pepsi and others also have caffeine in them. Why pick on only Coca-Cola?' he asks.

It's a fair point, so here are some other numbers: 174 cans of Pepsi Max, 223 Mountain Dew, 293 cans of Dr Pepper, and I'd be 'pushing up daisies', according to Death by Caffeine's calculations and colorful turn of phrase.

Tragic death linked to Coke drinking

In more serious news, a New Zealand coroner found today that a woman died from a cardiac arrest due to her excessive 10 liter per day Coca-Cola consumption habit.

Natasha Harris died in February 2010, and New Zealand coroner David Crerar said today she would have not have done so but for her dependence on the soft drink.

This meant that Harris consumed twice the daily recommended amount of caffeine, and 11 times the daily recommended intake of sugar.

The coroner said in his report that it was unlikely Harris would have died when she died and how she died, upon the basis of available evidence.

In a statement sent to BeverageDaily.com, Coca-Cola Refreshments said: "Our thoughts and sympathies remain with the family of Natasha Harris. We have always tried to be as respectful as possible during this difficult time and limit our comments on this tragic situation.

But the company noted that the coroner had acknowledged that he could not be certain what caused Ms Harris' heart attack.

"Therefore we are disappointed that the Coroner has chosen to focus on the combination of Ms Harris’ excessive consumption of Coca-Cola, together with other health and lifestyle factors, as the probable cause of her death," Coke said.  

"This is contrary to the evidence that showed the experts could not agree on the most likely cause."