Canada

Man died from eating excessive amounts of black licorice: Doc

A Massachusetts construction worker’s death last year was due to his taste for black licorice, doctors say.

The rare incident was reported Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, which detailed how the 54-year-old man ate a bag and a half of the candy every day for two weeks prior to dying.

The man, who had just switched from red, fruit-flavoured twists to the black licorice version, collapsed inside a fast-food restaurant and died the next day.

Licorice contains glycyrrhizic acid, which can deplete potassium levels and cause imbalances in other minerals, especially electrolytes, thus contributing to heart rhythm problems, doctors explained.

“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 journal.

Glycyrrhizic acid is found in many other foods — even Belgian beers — as well as dietary supplements containing licorice root extract.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows up to 3.1% of a food’s content to have glycyrrhizic acid, but Butala said many candy products don’t state its amount per ounce. Doctors have reported the case to the FDA, The Guardian reports.

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