Coca-Cola has been the preferred beverage of many for decades, but one woman loved the fizzy drink so much that she died from drinking so much of it.
New Zealand woman Natasha Harris, 30, drank 2.2 gallons of Coke a day, and a coroner declared Tuesday that the soft drink was likely what caused her death.
She was a mother of eight children, and drank huge amounts of the beverage every day for years before she died in February 2010.
Coroner David Crerar is urging Coca-Cola to put health warnings on their products to prevent it from happening again.
“I find that when all the available evidence is considered, were it not for the consumption of very large quantities of Coke by Natasha Harris, it is unlikely that she would have died when she died and how she died,” he said.
It was a cardiac arrhythmia which eventually killed Harris.
He said her Coke drinking habit was “a substantial factor that contributed to the development of the metabolic imbalances which gave rise to the arrhythmia.”
Harris even had an enlarged liver, something many heavy alcohol drinkers have. A pathologist said she had an enlarged liver due to fatty deposits from the excessive sugar consumption and low potassium levels in her blood. These conditions affected her cardiac function.
Harris’ family said she often complained of a “racing heart” before she died. They knew she was addicted to the drink, as she would experience withdrawal symptoms if she didn’t have it.
“[She would] go crazy if she ran out...she would get the shakes, withdrawal symptoms, be angry, on edge and snappy,” mother-in-law Vivien Hodgkinson said.
She also had to have all her teeth removed as they were rotten from drinking Coke. It even affected her children, as one of her babies was born with no enamel on its teeth.
Crerar said the family knew she was addicted, but did not know the seriousness of it as the beverage contained no health warnings.
He urged Coca-Cola to “give consideration to the inclusion of advice as to quantity of caffeine on labels [in] its products and...adding appropriate warnings related to the dangers of consuming excessive quantities of the products.”
Crerar also wants authorities to consider lowering the maximum amount of caffeine allowed in beverages like Coke.
Though he did admit that all the ingredients of the beverage are “entirely legal [and] enjoyed by millions.”
“Coca-Cola cannot be held responsible for the health of consumers who drink unhealthy quantities of the product,” he said.
Coca-Cola, however, said experts could not agree on what caused Harris’ heart attack, and Crerar admitted it might not have been directly related to Coke consumption.
“Therefore, we are disappointed that the coroner has chosen to focus on the combination of Ms. Harris’ excessive consumption of Coca-Cola, together with other health and lifestyle factors, as the probable cause of her death,” the company said.