Why you may want to avoid black licorice this Halloween (or anytime!)

Black licorice

A 54-year-old Massachusetts man died after eating too much black licorice. The man ate a bag and a half of black licorice every day for a few weeks, and it caused his heart to stop, doctors reported yesterday (September 23rd). Glycyrrhizic acid, which is found in black licorice and many other foods and dietary supplements containing licorice root extract, can cause dangerously low potassium and imbalances in the body's electrolytes. Cardiologist Dr. Neel Butala, who described the case in theNew England Journal of Medicine, said, "Even a small amount of licorice you eat can increase your blood pressure a little bit." The U.S Food and Drug Administration warns that eating as little as two ounces of black licorice a day for two weeks could cause a heart rhythm problem, especially for people over age 40.

A few years ago I read this online:

A word of caution before Halloween about a popular kind of candy. Research shows it could be hard on your heart. Medical reporter Liz Bonis shares details in Wednesday's Health Alert. Not sure what kind of candy you are passing out this Halloween, but this report found a word of caution about licorice this time of year. Local 12 has details from the Cleveland Clinic where researchers found those who especially like black licorice, two ounces a day for two weeks is enough to raise the risk of an irregular heartbeat. Black licorice contains a compound that comes from the licorice root. It may lower potassium levels which can impact heart rhythm. It's also possible that a second compound in black licorice called glycyrrhizin, it's a sweetening compound in licorice, it too may alter heart rhythm and blood pressure which could make a difference for those with heart concerns. Now if you eat it once in awhile, or prefer kit-kats or chocolate, no problem. Other than we probably eat too much of these this time of year.

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