Massachusetts Construction Worker Dies From Eating Black Licorice

Massachusetts Construction Worker Dies From Eating Black Licorice September 24, 2020

This all too real story made me thank my fictitious god I don’t like black licorice. And that’s good because I like eating the same thing over and over again. For example, my second breakfast entails two scrambled eggs, salsa, and a slice of cheese every single day. If I liked black licorice I could easily be dead by now.

But I digress.

I saw this Associated Press story on

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.

You may say, “Sure, a lot of things may increase your blood pressure a wee bit. What makes black licorice so different?”

And that’s a good question.

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 2 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.

If I were a Trump supporter I’d find a way to blame Obama’s Muslim emails sent from Hillary for this.

Thankfully, overdosing on this candy is rare.

The death was clearly an extreme case. The man had switched from red, fruit-flavored twists to the black licorice version of the candy a few weeks before his death last year. He collapsed while having lunch at a fast-food restaurant. Doctors found he had dangerously low potassium, which led to heart rhythm and other problems. Emergency responders did CPR and he revived but died the next day.

Halloween is not too far away. Maybe it’s a good idea to go easy on this candy?

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