How Much Coffee Can Kill You?

Lethal weapon: It would take about 42 cups of coffee to kill you

Between the Arctic weather, the long days with kids home from school and a communal case of Seasonal Affective Disorder (listen to Tom Ashbrook’s excellent segment on this yesterday) blanketing the region, I’ve been drinking more than my share of coffee to keep on top of things — probably triple my normal daily dose. I’m guessing I’m not alone here.

So I was pleased to read this report in The New York Times that said for caffeine to be lethal, it would probably take a lot more than a few new Starbucks Trentas. According to the piece, you’d need to drink about 42 cups of coffee in one sitting to kill you.

Still, caffeine overdoses are not uncommon:

Concentrations of caffeine in blood plasma that are higher than 15 milligrams per liter of blood can cause toxic reactions, and caffeine overdoses are a relatively common cause of poisoning emergencies, with 4,183 such cases reported by the American Association of Poison Control Centers in 2007.Only one death occurred among those cases.

When caffeine does kill, the reported causes are abnormal heart rhythms, seizures and breathing in vomit.

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