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Coca-Cola Addiction a Factor in Woman’s Death

Coca-Cola Addiction a Factor in Woman’s Death

A 30-year-old New Zealand woman, Natasha Harris, who drank between 8 and 10 liters (2 to 2 1/2 gallons) of Coca-Cola a day died in February of 2010 of a heart attack. A pathologist has ruled that her excessive daily soda intake “probably” played a part in her death, says the Associated Press via the Guardian.

On Thursday, Dr Dan Mornin testified that Harris was very likely suffering from hypokalemia, or low potassium, whose symptoms include abnormal heart rhythms. Chris Hodgkinson, Harris’ partner, testified that

The first thing she would do in the morning was to have a drink of Coke beside her bed and the last thing she would do at night was have a drink of Coke. She was addicted to Coke.

Hodgkinson also said that, in the months before she died, Harris had lacked energy and had problems with her blood pressure. Her other health habits did not help: She reportedly ate little and smoked 30 cigarettes a day.

Lisa te Morenga, a nutritionist at the University of Otago, also emphasized that “excessive consumption of any type of liquid in a cool climate would be likely to play havoc with the body’s natural systems and balances.”

Not surprisingly, Coca-Cola Oceania has said that “grossly excessive ingestion of any food product, including water, over a short period of time with the inadequate consumption of essential nutrients” can be problematic.

While Harris’ dietary and other habits were extreme, all of those liters/gallons of Coca-Cola must have been wreaking havoc on her body. In the U.S., people consume about 50 gallons of soda per year; all of this imbibing of soda is linked to the rise in childhood obesity and also diabetes. Consumption of soda in such high amounts has been linked to tooth problems, bone demineralization and the development of metabolic syndrome and diabetes. A 2009 study found that hypokalaemia can have “adverse effects on vital muscle functions,” including “mild weakness” and “profound paralysis.” A 2010 study has linked excessive soda consumption to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Vivien Hodgkinson, Harris’ mother-in-law, said in Agence France-Presse that her daughter-in-law would “go crazy if she ran out [of Coca-Cola]… she would get shakes, withdrawal symptoms, be angry, on edge and snappy.” Hodgkinson has called for health labels on soft drinks, to warn consumers of the dangers of drinking too much.


Related Care2 Coverage

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Photo by Coca-Cola South Africa

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8:21AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

One does not have to be mentally ill to get thirsty from medications, many prescription medications can make one thirsty. Drinking the amount that she did was excessive but all sorts of people eat, drink, smoke and many other things to excess and are not mentally ill.

Soft drinks, especially the colas have a lot of chemicals in them and can cause health problems if taken in huge amounts.

Sad story.

3:26AM PDT on Apr 26, 2012

Sad for the family but just goes to show ...

4:21PM PDT on Apr 25, 2012

No surprises here...

4:03PM PDT on Apr 24, 2012


3:41PM PDT on Apr 24, 2012

Charli. S. I agree with you.

1:23PM PDT on Apr 24, 2012

Sounds like a caffiene addiction - which is found in Coca Cola as well as other sodas.

11:26AM PDT on Apr 24, 2012

Drinking soda of ANY KIND is awful for anyone's health.

11:11AM PDT on Apr 24, 2012

Just how is one addicted to a soft drink? I think we too often confuse the word addiction with habit. I worked as an addiction counselor. Addiction is a complex physical and mental dependance on a substance that when stopped suddenly will cause withdrawal sx's.

I don't think you can be addicted to a soft drink. Sadly it sounds as if her entire life was based on poor health habits. But as an adult SHE had choices and she chose to live in this manner. It's sad that she didn't see a doctor about changing things. But we all make choices and must live with the consequences of those choices. We can't save everyone nor should we. As an adult I should be able to do what I want as long as my choices don't infringe on the rights of others. This is one of the consequences of freedom. Saying that I still believe that every person should have the right to choose the way they live as long as those choices/actions infringe on the rights of others. Would we prefer a Nannystate in which someone other then ourselves decides what we get to do, eat, watch, etc? I long ago decided to live my life for quality not quantity. I eat butter, I run/walk everyday despite the damage it does to my knees, I skydive, I enjoy my life even though my doctors are not always happy with my choices. If she enjoyed her life then who are we to judge her?

8:23AM PDT on Apr 24, 2012

Nice to know but yet there is no proof this huge amount of coke everyday killed her. As mentioned, she had many other bad habits. Maybe an autopsy could have given better leads and prove coke took part in her death.

8:01AM PDT on Apr 24, 2012

Overdoing anything can lead to poor health & result in consequences.Obviously drinking gallons a day is not normal- definately an addiction. I wonder why no one confronted her about her addiction. Perhaps because it was a soft drink no one really bothered to mention her addictive behaviors including her smoking.No wonder her heart gave out- all the caffeine & the sedative effects of cigarettes( they are not a stimulant). Perhaps someone will change there habits. So Sad.

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