Studies have shown that too much licorice can lead to dangerous drops in potassium levels
A construction worker in Massachusetts was killed by his liquorice habit, according to doctors.
The man, who was not named but was 54 years old, ate about one and a half sacks of black liquorice every day.
He had suffered no symptoms before suddenly going into cardiac arrest in a fast food restaurant.
His doctors described the man’s case in the New England Journal of Medicine, saying the glycyrrhizic acid in licorice was to blame.
“We are told that this patient has a poor diet and eats a lot of candy. Could his illness be related to candy consumption?” Dr. Elazer R Edelman said.
He said studies had shown that glycyrrhizic acid – the active ingredient in licorice – could “cause high blood pressure, hypokalemia, metabolic alkalosis, fatal arrhythmias and kidney failure” – all of which were seen in this patient.
Hypokalemia is when a person’s blood potassium levels become dangerously low.
The patient had also recently changed the type of candy he was eating. A few weeks before his death, he switched from red fruit flavored twists to another type made from black liquorice.
Another doctor, Dr. Andrew L Lundquist, on the report, agreed that the licorice was to blame.
He wrote, “Further investigation indicated that a licorice-containing candy was recently changed as the likely cause of his hypokalemia.”