Construction Worker’s Love of Licorice Cost Him His Life

A 54-year-old man, whose name will remain anonymous, died in a fast-food restaurant while having lunch, after consuming a bag and a half of black licorice every day for a few weeks. A study by The New England Journal of Medicine revealed that licorice’s glycyrrhizic acid — usually found in the candy's extract — can cause the unimpeded presence of cortisol, which can cause high blood pressure, potassium deficiency, kidney failure and fatal arrhythmia. All of these conditions were seen in this patient. The man, who suffered full-body shaking and loss of consciousness before his death, also smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for 36 years and had a medical history that included untreated Hepatitis C. His case is not the first time people have suffered serious illness or death from consuming too much licorice. The FDA is warning that adults over 40 who eat two ounces of black licorice a day for at least two weeks could develop potentially serious health problems.