Hugh: Man Dies From Eating too Much Black Licorice

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Let this be a warning to your sugar-addicted trick-or-treaters: A man in Massachusetts died recently after consuming a bag and a half of black licorice every day for weeks. Doctors said Wednesday that the 54-year-old construction worker’s heart stopped after all that candy threw his nutrients out of whack. That’s because licorice contains glycyrrhizic acid, which can cause dangerously low potassium levels and electrolyte imbalances. “Even a small amount of licorice you eat can increase your blood pressure a little bit,” says Massachusetts General Hospital cardiologist Neel Butala, who described the case in the New England Journal of Medicine. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns that consuming as little as two ounces of black licorice a day for two weeks could cause a heart rhythm problem, especially for people ages 40 and up. While the man’s death was believed to be an extreme case, experts warn that you should be mindful of licorice root in other foods as well. “It’s more than licorice sticks,” says University of Colorado cardiologist Robert Eckel. “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.”

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