Man dies after eating too much licorice

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A study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine indicates that a 54-year-old man died from excessive liquorice consumption.

The man, a Massachusetts construction worker, lost consciousness at a fast food restaurant and was taken to hospital, where he died the next day.

Doctors wrote that he had “a poor diet, consisting mainly of several packets of candy a day,” and that three weeks earlier he had switched from consuming fruit-flavored soft candies to licorice candies containing sugar. glycyrrhizic acid.

CNN has contacted Dr. Elazer Edelman, one of the study’s authors, and is awaiting a response.

Glycyrrhizic acid, or glycyrrhizin, a sweetening compound derived from licorice root, can cause low levels of potassium in the body, which in turn can cause high blood pressure, swelling, abnormal heart rhythms, and even heart failure, according to the FDA.

RELATED: Don’t Accidentally Overdose on Black Licorice This Halloween, FDA Warns

People 40 and older should be especially vigilant about their consumption of black licorice: even 2 ounces per day, over a two-week period, could cause an irregular heartbeat and require hospitalization, the FDA warns.

The negative effects of eating too much licorice are reversible and decrease when consumption is discontinued. It can take 1 to 2 weeks for potassium to return to normal levels, according to the study.

Fortunately, there are safe alternatives. According to the NIH, many licorice products available in the United States do not contain licorice, but rather anise oil, which has a comparable flavor.

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