If you have trouble starting your day without a kick from caffeine, you’re not alone. Estimates vary, but one study from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine puts the number of Americans regularly using caffeine between 80 to 90 percent.
For most healthy adults, caffeine presents no serious problems when consumed in the moderate amounts found in coffee or soft drinks. It’s when the caffeine content starts creeping upward that potential dangers of the drug can become reality.
Last month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cited Monster Energy, a highly-caffeinated energy drink, as potentially having contributed to the deaths of five people over the last three years, including a 14-year-old Maryland teen who died in December from a heart arrhythmia after drinking large quantities of the drink.
Then, last week, the FDA released reports that possibly connect Monster Energy and another brand, 5-Hour Energy, to 13 deaths since 2009.
For their part, the companies deny any connection between their product and the deaths. And as the Boston Globe’s Karen Weintraub points out: the FDA reports don’t firmly link the deaths to the energy products; the reports simply mean consumers consumed the beverages before they became ill.
Furthermore, experts are still trying to determine how much caffeine is too much, and how the drug compounds existing problems in the body or creates new ones, if it does that at all.