Man dies after eating bag of licorice every day for weeks

Black Licorice

The Massachusetts man died aged 54 after eating a bag and a half of licorice every day for several weeks, throwing his nutrients out of balance.

In 2018, a 73-year-old New Yorker filed a lawsuit against the Hershey Company, alleging that their Twizzlers black licorice candy contributed to his heart condition. "Even some beers, like Belgian beers, have this compound in it", Dr. Robert Eckel, a University of Colorado cardiologist and former American Heart Association president, told AP. It can cause dangerously low potassium and imbalances in other minerals called electrolytes.

The AP News report quoted Dr. Robert Eckel, a University of Colorado cardiologist and former American Heart Association president, who had no role in the MA man's care: "It's more than licorice sticks".

Glycyrrhizic acid keeps the body from properly absorbing potassium, so when you consume too much glycyrrhizin, potassium levels may drop below normal levels.

As reported by AP, the unnamed MA man passed away a year ago after collapsing in a fast-food restaurant, with doctors finding he had extremely low levels of potassium.

Glycyrrhizic acid can also be found in liquorice root extract supplements and teas, as well as jelly beans and certain beers. A few weeks before his death, he switched from red fruit-flavoured twists to another type made with black liquorice.

After attempting cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) at the scene, he was moved to the emergency room with an irregular heartbeat of just 40 beats per minute, before being placed on a mechanical ventilator in the cardiac intensive care unit (ICU).

Doctors found he had dangerously low potassium, which led to heart rhythm and other problems.

Regularly eating as little as 56 grams of black licorice a day, it turns out, puts you at risk.

Another doctor, Dr Andrew L Lundquist, agreed in the report that the liquorice was to blame.

Hershey Company spokesperson Jeff Beckman said in an email to the Associated Press that the Twizzlers producer complies with FDA regulations and said all their sweets are safe to eat.

Beckman's statement added that all foods, including candy, 'should be enjoyed in moderation'.

The man also complained of headaches, light sensitivity, chest pain and fatigue - all of which can be symptoms of a hypertensive crisis. Outside doctors are asked to diagnose a patient based on their initial symptoms and medical history upon admission, with the details of the case all taken from the genuine but anonymous patient records of the Massachusetts General Hospital.