Missourian Asks ‘Can Black Licorice Kill You?’ – Answer: Maybe
I saw an anonymous question asked by someone in Missouri. They saw someone share a graphic on social media claiming that black licorice can kill you and they wanted to know if it's true. The answer surprisingly is yes, but it's complicated.
I've heard this has been shared on some private and public Facebook groups in Missouri, so let's do some digging and see how much (if any) is true.
If you've seen claims that black licorice can kill you being passed around online, I'd recommend you not rely on memes for facts. I went straight to a medical source for an answer to this controversial claim. I found an article shared by the American Heart Association. You might be surprised to know that they do confirm that black licorice can lead to death. But, hold on a sec before throwing out all your candy. This is a case where you really need to understand details.
So black licorice really can kill you?
Let's stick to the truth. There really was a man in Massachusetts who died 4 years ago after eating black licorice for days on end. Note that he had other health issues that played a part into his demise, but black licorice really did play a role in killing him.
So what's the problem with black licorice?
Here's the exact quote from the American Heart Association:
Traditional black licorice flavor comes from a chemical called glycyrrhizin, which is 50 times sweeter than cane sugar...Eaten in large amounts, black licorice can lower the body's potassium levels – significantly. Potassium is important for heart health, and if levels plummet, it can lead to problems such as abnormal heart rhythms and congestive heart failure.
This does not mean that you should stop eating black licorice. The governing health agencies advise moderation with any candy, but if you happen to have heart issues already, you'd be advised to talk to a doctor about your candy cravings.
This is one of the rare cases where an internet meme actually has some basis in fact even if it is a bit exaggerated. Shocking.