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Caffeine Health Risks

Panera Bread’s Charged Lemonades that contain dangerous amounts of caffeine.

Do you drink coffee every day? Or maybe a Red Bull or energy drink? Or some other type of caffeinated beverage? According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the average cup of coffee contains 80 to 100 milligrams of caffeine, and most energy drinks contain 70 to 100 milligrams. What does this mean? Is that a lot of caffeine? Is caffeine unhealthy?

A recent lawsuit against Panera Bread’s Charged Lemonades has sparked worry about drinking large amounts of caffeine. On September 10th, 2022, college student Sarah Katz drank a Panera Bread Charged Lemonade and died hours later. Katz had a heart condition called long QT syndrome type 1, and she avoided drinking energy drinks by her doctor’s recommendation. Her parents are filing a lawsuit against Panera Bread, saying they do not state the dangerous amounts of caffeine in this drink. A Charged Lemonade contains 390 milligrams of caffeine. That’s equivalent to drinking four coffees or energy drinks! According to the FDA, a healthy person should have no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine in one day. Consuming that much caffeine in one sitting can be dangerous for those with heart diseases or complications like Katz, but can also be dangerous for others.

Kids and teenagers must be more careful about their caffeine intake. “Children and adolescents are also still developing and the impact of caffeine on their nervous systems and cardiovascular systems is not fully known,” says John Hopkins Medicine. Too much caffeine can cause increased anxiety, increased heart rate and blood pressure, trouble sleeping, and acid reflux. Though these effects are not deadly, and though some may only cause discomfort, it is important to listen to your body and know when to limit your consumption of caffeine. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should curb your caffeine intake when: you drink more than 4 coffees a day, you are sensitive to caffeine, it affects your ability to sleep, and you are taking other medications or supplements that interfere with it. Caffeine is a relatively safe drug as long as you are aware of how much you consume and the effects it has on you. 

Overall, caffeine is not dangerous and can even be beneficial if taken in moderate amounts. Caffeine can improve mood and brain function by blocking the brain-signaling molecule adenosine, allowing for the increase of other molecules such as dopamine and norepinephrine. This decreases the risk of suicide. “A study linked drinking 2–3 cups of caffeinated coffee (providing about 200–300 mg caffeine) per day to a 45% lower risk of suicide,”(Healthline). Caffeine can also boost metabolism and fat burning. This means that consuming caffeine can allow you to burn more calories. Lastly, caffeine may protect against heart disease and diabetes and may improve athletic performance. When exercising, caffeine may increase the use of fat as fuel. This can help the glucose stored in muscles last longer, delaying muscle exhaustion. Though caffeine has a bad reputation for being unhealthy or unsafe, it can have the opposite effects if consumed responsibly. 

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Betty Fiedler
Betty Fiedler, Staff Writter

My name is Betty Fiedler and I’m a junior here at Barlow. This will be my second year on the Bruin Banner. I enjoy playing soccer and love sweat tart ropes.

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