Japan records first death from caffeine intoxication

23 December 2015
A man in Japan died of caffeine intoxication, the first such case reported in the country. A study conducted by Fukuoka University concluded that the man in his 20s died probably due to consumption of too many caffeinated drinks, Xinhua reported.

The death was treated as accidental, despite the presence of traces of a caffeine pill in his stomach, as there were no indications of foul play or a deliberate overdose, the study said. According to Japan's health, labour and welfare ministry, it was the first such case that had been reported and stated: "We had never heard of fatal caffeine intoxication."

The deceased apparently was a heavy drinker of caffeinated drinks, which he consumed to stay awake during his job at a 24-hour gasoline stand. A manufacturer of such "energy drinks" warns against drinking numerous cans or bottles of its product. It also warns its consumers against mixing the drink with alcohol as it might cause side effect.

IANS reported Dr Rupali Datta, chief clinical dietitian at Fortis-Escorts Hospital, as saying, "Caffeine is a naturally occurring in certain plants. Caffeine is consumed in coffee, tea, cocoa, chocolate, many soft drinks and some drugs. Caffeine is known to cross the blood-brain barrier and increase alertness, reduce fatigue and tiredness temporarily. A lot of young people, especially in the west combine energy drinks, that are a source of caffeine, with alcohol because it blocks the slowing down reactions of alcohol. This leads to an excessive alcohol intake which is detrimental to the young body. When taken in large amounts this can lead to addiction that can have serious health implications."

Caffeine overdose has been common in the US where highly-caffeinated drinks are widely available and commonly served alongside alcohol in bars. Such drinks can also be purchased from urban bars and clubs in Japan with vodka often being added to the drink.

The drinks themselves can be bought from most convenience stores and supermarkets throughout the country. Companies selling the drinks use TV commercials often showing overworked men or athletes promoting their 'energy giving' products. The police reported that the deceased had returned home and slept. After he started vomiting, he was rushed to the hospital, where he died.

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