The man dies from eating too much black licorice. The cause – glycyrrhizic acid: what is it?
A man from Massachusetts lost his life because he ate too much of the candy he loved.
According to a AP News report, the worker had been eating a bag and a half of black liquorice for several weeks. According to the report, doctors reported on Wednesday that eating this excessive amount of black licorice “had imbalanced its nutrients and caused the 54-year-old man’s heart to stop.”
“Even a small amount of licorice that you eat can raise your blood pressure a bit,” said Dr. Neel Butala, a cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, who described the case in the New England Journal of Medicine, the cited report.
What’s in black licorice that’s causing the problem?
Glycyrrhizic acid is the cause of the problem, according to the report. The compound, found in black licorice and other foods and dietary supplements containing licorice root extract, according to the report, “can cause dangerously low potassium and imbalances in other minerals called electrolytes.”
United States Food and Drug Administration warns that “eating as little as 2 ounces of black licorice per day for two weeks could cause a problem with the heart rhythm, especially for people over 40,” the report cited.
What foods contain glycyrrhizic acid?
The AP News report quotes Dr. Robert Eckel, a cardiologist at the University of Colorado and former president of the American Heart Association, who played no role in the care of the Massachusetts man: “It is more than licorice sticks. It could be jelly beans, licorice teas, a lot of over the counter stuff. Even some beers, like Belgian beers, contain this compound, ”as do some chewing tobacco, Eckel said.
According to the report, weeks before his death last year, the man had switched from the red fruit version to black licorice. After collapsing while eating lunch, doctors found that the man’s potassium levels were dangerously low, leading to heartbeat and other problems, according to the report. He was resuscitated after rescuers performed CPR, but died the next day.
What is considered a safe level of glycyrrhizic acid?
FDA allows up to 3.1% of the content of a food for having glycyrrhizic acid, however, many candies and other licorice products don’t reveal how much of it is per ounce, Butala said. The AP News report says doctors have reported the case to the FDA in hopes of drawing attention to the risk.
A response from the Hershey Company:
In an email to AP News, Jeff Beckman, a spokesperson for the Hershey Company, which makes Twizzlers Licorice Twists, said, “All of our products are safe to consume and formulated in full compliance with regulations. of the FDA ”and that all foods, including candy,“ consume in moderation ”.