Man's Dangerous Black Licorice Eating Habit Leads To His Death After His Heart Stopped

Man's Dangerous Black Licorice Eating Habit Leads To His Death After His Heart Stopped

The 54-year-old man used to consume a bag-and-a-half of licorice every day which contained glycyrrhizic acid that causes the imbalance of nutrients in the body.

Cover image used for representative purposes only

Having a sweet tooth may have dire, life-threatening consequences that go beyond just the problem of cavities. A Massachusetts man's love for black licorice cost him his life. The construction worker was having lunch with his colleagues when he suddenly collapsed. The 54-year-old man later died after suffering a major heart attack, reported Global News. It was later discovered that the man, who remained unidentified, used to consume a bag-and-a-half of licorice every day, after work for several weeks. This put the nutrients in his body in disarray which caused his heart to stop, the doctors stated.



The man was examined by first responders who managed to revive him through CPR. Unfortunately, he passed away the following day. “Even a small amount of licorice you eat can increase your blood pressure a little bit,” Dr. Neel Butala, a cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital who described the case in the New England Journal of Medicine stated. The Associated Press reported that the problem with black licorice is the glycyrrhizic acid, containing licorice root extract. It can lead to dangerously low potassium levels in your body and cause imbalances in other minerals called electrolytes. The acid is also found in many other foods and dietary supplements.



On the eve of Halloween 2017, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had released a formal warning about the dangers of black licorice. The report had explicitly stated, "you really can overdose on candy—or, more precisely, black licorice." It went on to say that people who are of age 40 or older, eating 2 ounces of black licorice a day for at least two weeks could land you in the hospital with irregular heart rhythm or arrhythmia. With Halloween right around the corner, the FDA did encourage eating the candy in moderation is encouraged but advised people of all ages to not eat large amounts of black licorice at one time. 



But you do not have to worry about your licorice consumption so far. According to FDA’s Linda Katz, M.D., M.P.H., you can still turn your health around since potassium levels are usually restored with no permanent health problems when consumption of black licorice stops. The Massachusetts man had only recently switched from the fruit-flavored red licorice to the black licorice. Although there have been reports of irregular heartbeats by licorice aficionados, this case was an extreme one that led to the man's death. His condition could have been aggravated since he was also a long-time smoker who smoked a pack a day and had an untreated hepatitis C virus infection.

Image Source: Getty (Representative)


Alexandra Lambert, D.O., M.P.H., told ABC News, "This case may be an extreme example of the deleterious effects of black licorice as there are not many other cases in the literature. Not all licorice-flavored foods contain this compound," she said. Dr. Robert Eckel, a University of Colorado cardiologist and former American Heart Association president said, “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.” But the good news is a lot of black licorice candy sold in the U.S. uses little or no authentic licorice. Instead, it relies on similar-tasting anise oil, according to Health.com. It would be best to check the labels of the food you eat before consuming, as general good practice to know what it is that you are putting in your body.


“All of our products are safe to eat and formulated in full compliance with FDA regulations,” Jeff Beckman, a spokesperson for Hershey Company, that makes Twizzlers, said. He added that all foods, including candy, “should be enjoyed in moderation.” But two years ago, a 73-year-old man from New York City, David Goldberg filed a suit against the Hershey Company that he was not properly warned about the potential dangers of frequently consuming his favorite candy, black licorice, reported TODAY. The candy company labels do not contain any visible warnings.





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