Eighteen-year-old Logan Stiner, the prom king and wrestler at an Ohio high school, had plans to attend the University of Toledo after graduation. Sadly, caffeine powder toxicity took the life of the Ohio teen, and his sudden death shocked the residents in his hometown in LaGrange and caffeine consumers nationwide.
Since his passing on May 27, the federal Food and Drug Administration stated Friday that it is thoroughly investigating caffeine powder and will consider taking rigid action. The administration also warned parents that young people could be drawn to the substance and urged consumers to avoid it. Because the powder is considered a dietary supplement, it is not subject to the same federal regulations as specific caffeinated foods and drinks. Many athletes use the powder as a pick me up, adding small amounts to drinks and protein shakes before workouts or to control weight gain.
After an autopsy was performed, the results showed that Stiner contained a lethal amount of caffeine in his system which ultimately led to his demise. The wrestler had more than 70 micrograms of caffeine per milliliter of blood in his system, which equals out to 23 times the amount found in an average coffee or soda consumer. Caffeine powder toxicity took the life of an Ohio teen, who unfortunately died too soon.
The FDA stated that caffeine powder is 100 percent caffeine, and that just one teaspoon of the substance is equivalent to about 25 cups of coffee. One-sixteenth of a teaspoon contains roughly 200 milligrams of caffeine, or comparable to drinking two cups of coffee. A full teaspoon, however, contains about 3,200 milligrams of caffeine and if consumed in one sitting the results could be fatal.
The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that caffeine-related complications from energy drinks have dramatically increased as well, doubling from 10,068 hospital visits in 2007 to 20,783 in 2011. Federal health representatives stated that in 2012 they were investigating reports of 13 deaths, which were possibly linked to energy shots. In addition, the FDA documented 92 reports over a four-year period that listed illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths after consuming the 5-Hour Energy product. The agency also stated that it received information detailing five deaths and one nonfatal heart attack as a result of consuming the Monster Energy Drink.
New York University toxicologist Dr. Bob Hoffman said that in a concentrated dose, a person who consumes high amounts of caffeine can experience unpleasant side effects in a short period of time. Negative caffeine-related side effects could include: a quickened heartbeat, irregular heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, an alertness of the brain followed by agitation and confusion, palpitations, seizures, strokes and even death.
Dr. Henry Spiller, director of a poison control center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, mentioned that the center took reports of three individuals hospitalized for the misuse of caffeine powder. He stated that he was shocked about how easy it is for people (especially teenagers) to obtain the substance. “It’s frightening. It makes no sense to me,” he said.
Caffeine powder is easily found online on Amazon and eBay. Pouches are sold at $7 or for $15 for a little over a pound.
The hope for advocates is that after the FDA completes their investigation, consumers will be limited by the amounts of the powder they can purchase at one time, reducing the number of caffeine-related complications. More research needs to be performed, and more people need to be educated about the dangers that caffeine powder can cause. It was too little too late for Stiner. Caffeine powder toxicity took the life of the Ohio teen but his passing was not in vain. Stiner’s death has already ignited awareness about the product, and could possibly prevent others from suffering the same fate.
By Amy Nelson