Too much candy: Man dies from consuming black licorice packets.

Too much candy: Man dies from consuming black licorice packets.

Massachusetts construction worker 's love of black licorice has ended up costing him his life. Eating a bag and a half every day for a few weeks, he threw out his nutrients and stopped the heart of the 54-year-old man, the doctors reported on Wednesday.
Dr. Neel Butala, a cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, described the case in the New England Journal of Medicine, said. "Even a small amount of licorice you eat can increase your blood pressure a little bit".

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

Eating as little as 2 ounces of black licorice a day for two weeks could cause a heart rhythm problem, particularly for people over 40, the U.S. The Food and Drug Administration warns that.

“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. He had no role in the Massachusetts man’s care.

Death was certainly an exceptional situation. A few weeks before his death last year, the man had switched from red, fruit-flavoured twists to the black edition of the candy. He died while getting lunch in a fast-food restaurant. Doctors found that he had dangerously low potassium, which led to heart rhythm and other complications. Emergency Respondents did CPR, and he recovered, but died the next day.

The FDA requires up to 3.1 per cent of the food content to have glycyrrhizic acid, but many candies and other licorice products do not show how much of it is per ounce, Butala said. Doctors reported the case to the FDA in hopes of increasing attention to the risk.

Jeff Beckman, the spokesperson for the Hershey Company, which is producing Twizzler 's famous licorice twists, said in an email that “all of our products are safe to eat and formulated in full compliance with FDA regulations,” and that all foods, including candy, “should be enjoyed in moderation.”