Dumb science reporting: energy drink edition

You may have heard the news that the FDA is looking into some deaths purportedly associated with various energy drinks. Depending on where you read it though, the headlines may have been pretty misleading.

The New York Times did it right; the headline is simply "F.D.A. Posts Injury Data for 3 Drinks". The article correctly states,
The filing of an incident report with the F.D.A. does not mean that a product was responsible for a death or an injury or contributed to it in any way.
But others have been handling things a little more sensationally. Anais Fournier, a 14-year-old Maryland girl, died after consuming two 24-oz Monster energy drinks in a 24-hour period [1]. This, along with some complaints about Five-Hour Energy (aside from "tasting like shit"), has spurred some headlines like this:

When caffeine kills: Energy drinks under the spotlight

13 deaths linked to energy drinks; FDA investigates 

More Deaths, Illness Linked to Energy Drinks


Sigh.

The problem here is that no link has been established whatsoever. That 14-year-old girl who died after drinking Monster? She had a heart arrhythmia. Meanwhile, Monster has sold something over 8 billion drinks. 

So, how much caffeine does it take to kill you? A lot. Like, kind of a ridiculously huge amount of a lot.  

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