Man dies from eating too much black licorice

Massachusetts 54-year-old's heart stops after eating a bag and a half of the candy daily for three weeks.


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black licorice
(AP Photo/Patrick Sison)

Eating candy may not be the most noxious adult vice imaginable. Yet it seems an excessive amount of anything really is bad for you.

A Massachusetts man died last year due to his penchant for black licorice, according to a report published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The odd case study details how the unnamed 54-year-old ate a bag and a half of the candy every day for three weeks prior to his death.

Licorice contains glycyrrhizic acid, which can deplete potassium levels and contribute 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 article.

The man collapsed inside a fast food restaurant after suffering a cardiac arrest and died the next day, according to the report. Doctors then determined that his dangerously low potassium had led to problems with heart rhythm and other complications.

Eating just 2 ounces of black licorice a day for two weeks could lead to an irregular heartbeat, especially for folks over 40, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns.

Jeff Beckman, a spokesman for the Hershey Company, which makes the popular Twizzlers licorice twists, told the Associated Press that “all of our products are safe to eat and formulated in full compliance with FDA regulations.”

All candy “should be enjoyed in moderation,” he added.

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