Man dies from eat­ing bags of black licorice

Lethbridge Herald - - Headline News | Weather -

A Mas­sachusetts con­struc­tion worker’s love of black licorice wound up cost­ing him his life. Eat­ing a bag and a half ev­ery day for a few weeks threw his nu­tri­ents out of whack and caused the 54-year-old man’s heart to stop, doc­tors re­ported Wed­nes­day.

“Even a small amount of licorice you eat can in­crease your blood pres­sure a lit­tle bit,” said Dr. Neel Bu­tala, a car­di­ol­o­gist at Mas­sachusetts Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal who de­scribed the case in the New Eng­land Jour­nal of Medicine.

The prob­lem is gly­cyrrhizic acid, found in black licorice and in many other foods and di­etary sup­ple­ments con­tain­ing licorice root ex­tract. It can cause dan­ger­ously low potas­sium and im­bal­ances in other min­er­als called elec­trolytes.

Eat­ing as lit­tle as two ounces of black licorice a day for two weeks could cause a heart rhythm prob­lem, es­pe­cially for folks over 40, the U.S. Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion warns.

“It’s more than licorice sticks. It could be jelly beans, licorice teas, a lot of things over the counter. Even some beers, like Bel­gian beers, have this com­pound in it,” as do some chew­ing to­bac­cos, said Dr. Robert Eckel, a Univer­sity of Colorado car­di­ol­o­gist and former Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent.

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