Eating Too Much Black Licorice Kills Massachusetts Construction Worker

Black licorice contains an ingredient that can be fatal if you eat too much of it.

A construction worker's obsession with black licorice ended up killing him after he consumed bags of it on a daily basis. The Massachusetts man died after eating a bag and a half of the black candy every day for weeks, medical experts said Wednesday.

“Even a small amount of licorice you eat can increase your blood pressure a little bit,” Dr. Neel Butala, a cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, noted in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The fatal ingredient is glycyrrhizic acid, which can drastically lower potassium and electrolyte levels.

In the case of the Massachusetts man, who died last year, it stopped his heart.

“It’s more than licorice sticks. It could be jelly beans, licorice teas, a lot of things over the counter. Even some beers, like Belgian beers, have this compound in it,” Dr. Robert Eckel, a University of Colorado cardiologist and former American Heart Association president, told The Associated Press.