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Health: FDA Licorice Warning

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A Halloween candy warning from the government. Eating a certain sweet treat could cause heart problems. Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl is On Your Side with more.

41 percent of adults admit to sneaking sugary treats from their own candy bowl on Halloween. But eating an old fashioned favorite could be putting your health at risk, according to a new warning from federal health officials.

With Halloween just days away, the FDA is issuing a warning about black licorice saying it could potentially cause heart problems.

“It does scare me,” said Donna DiStefano, of South Philadelphia.

“Well if it could cause heart problems I’m not touching it at all,” said Jay Twiman, of North Philadelphia.

“I’m going to keep eating it,” said Deatra Butler, of South Philadelphia.

FDA experts say black licorice contains a compound called glycyrrhizin that can cause potassium levels in the body to fall. When that happens, some people can experience irregular heart rhythms, high blood pressure, even congestive heart failure.

“You want to pay attention to symptoms of palpitations, shortness of breath, fainting or feel as though you might faint,” said Dr. Michael Riley, a Cardiologist at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

He says what’s most concerning is how just a little amount of black licorice can cause problems.

“Five pieces, taken every day, for two weeks can lead to difficulties,” said Dr. Riley.

The FDA is particularly concerned about people over 40 eating licorice, and those with pre-existing heart conditions.

“If you do take certain cardiac medicines or you do have existing heart problems, the safest thing probably is to avoid it all together,” said Dr. Riley.

Doctors say no matter how old you are, don’t eat large amounts of black licorice at one time. Once you stop eating the candy, experts say potassium levels usually go back to normal, with no permanent health problems.

Related Link:

FDA Licorice Warning

More from Stephanie Stahl
  • not blind

    another ingredient in it thwarts off other major illnesses (forgot), obviously it’s cramping pharms $ intake and so also the fda isn’t making money iether.
    just like cry baby polititians, make a mountain out of a mole hill to destroy the credibility of their opposite equals.

  • Samantha

    It was my favorite as a child and nothing has ever happened to me.

  • TJ

    Wow people have been eating this for years and suddenly it’s a problem

  • Big Woody

    Is this the same FDA that didn’t have the manpower to inspect a chicken farm that had to destroy 500,000 eggs because of solminila? The same FDA that has raided cranberry farms because the farmers said cranberrys are healthy food? The FDA is out of control and should be shut down or at least reorganized from the ground up.

  • Millie

    What about other flavors ~ cherry, chocolate, etc.?

  • Zzbar

    Whats the story on red licorice? Can I eat sneak it out of the kids Halloween sack and eat it?

  • Michael Masters

    Boy, who knew? Now I know where all those dead bodies I see on Halloween come from. Enough with the scaremongering. Any of you remember the coffee scare? First it would kill you. Then it wouldn’t. Now it is good for you. Licorice has been used as a treatment for sore throats for centuries.

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