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Wellington, New Zealand - Woman's Coca-Cola Habit Cited In Death

Published on: April 20, 2012 08:59 AM
By: AP
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Wellington, New Zealand - Experts say a New Zealand woman’s 2-gallon-a-day Coca-Cola habit probably contributed to her death, a conclusion that led the soft-drink giant to note that even water can be deadly in excessive amounts.

Natasha Harris, a 30-year-old, stay-at-home mother of eight from Invercargill, died of a heart attack in February 2010. Fairfax Media reported that a pathologist, Dr. Dan Mornin, testified at an inquest Thursday that she probably suffered from hypokalemia, or low potassium, which he thinks was caused by her excessive consumption of Coke and overall poor nutrition.

Symptoms of hypokalemia can include abnormal heart rhythms, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Mornin said that toxic levels of caffeine, a stimulant found in Coke, also may have contributed to her death, according to Fairfax.

Harris’ partner, Chris Hodgkinson, testified that Harris drank between 8 and 10 liters (2.1 and 2.6 gallons) of regular Coke every day.

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“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,” Hodgkinson said in a deposition. “She was addicted to Coke.”

Hodgkinson also said Harris ate little and smoked about 30 cigarettes a day. In the months before her death, he said, Harris experienced blood pressure problems and lacked energy.

He said that on the morning of her death, Harris helped get her children ready for school before slumping against a wall. He called emergency services and tried mouth-to-mouth resuscitation but couldn’t revive her.

Another pathologist, Dr. Martin Sage, said in a deposition that “it is certainly well demonstrated that excessive long or short term cola ingestion can be dramatically symptomatic, and there are strong hypothetical grounds for this becoming fatal in individual cases.”

Inquests such as this are sometimes held for unusual or unexplained deaths in New Zealand, and can help shape future health policies. With the evidence in the case now complete, the coroner’s office will compile and issue a final report into the death.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Lisa Te Morenga, a nutritionist at the University of Otago, said excessive consumption of any type of liquid in a cool climate would be likely to play havoc with the body’s natural systems and balance.

Karen Thompson, a spokeswoman for Coca-Cola Oceania, said in a statement that its products are safe.

“We concur with the information shared by the coroner’s office that the grossly excessive ingestion of any food product, including water, over a short period of time with the inadequate consumption of essential nutrients, and the failure to seek appropriate medical intervention when needed, can be dramatically symptomatic.”


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Read Comments (12)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Apr 20, 2012 at 09:11 AM Real Coke Says:

I hope this isn't grounds for a lawsuit.

2

 Apr 20, 2012 at 09:18 AM Anonymous Says:

30 cigarrets a day is not enough to cause a heart attack? you still need to blame the cola?

3

 Apr 20, 2012 at 10:54 AM shimonyehuda Says:

so if i cant drink cola or water what can i drink?

4

 Apr 20, 2012 at 11:49 AM yitzgood Says:

why didn't they mention her weight - I imagine it was very high

5

 Apr 20, 2012 at 12:49 PM UGH! Says:

She was a "good" role model for her kids. Anything in excess can cause ill health or death. Any one of her habits could've killed her. Maybe it was the cigarettes? I wonder if she had any teeth left in her mouth!

6

 Apr 20, 2012 at 01:09 PM HaNavon Says:

He must have tried mouth to mouth recuscitation, but stopped because it was like a waterfountain of coca cola!

7

 Apr 20, 2012 at 02:22 PM AnonN Says:

Reply to #4  
yitzgood Says:

why didn't they mention her weight - I imagine it was very high

if anything it was very low.
hypokalemia is the major cause of death for people who suffer from anorexia or bulemia. This woman didnt die of coke, she died of drinking too much liquid, and not enough nutrients. Had she been drinking that much water, it wouldve had the same effect

8

 Apr 20, 2012 at 02:56 PM Anon Ibid Opcit Says:

Pack and a half a day smoker. Lousy diet. Probably no exercise. Teeth all rotted out when she was in her 20s. A kilo of sugar a day. Eight kids. Potassium leached from her body.

I'm surprised she lasted as long as she did.

While Coca Cola was not the single cause of her death that much sugar and caffeine was certainly a contributing factor to her poor health and eventual demise.

9

 Apr 20, 2012 at 06:17 PM chemistry issue Says:

watch out DHMO poisoning up next.

10

 Apr 20, 2012 at 06:47 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #6  
HaNavon Says:

He must have tried mouth to mouth recuscitation, but stopped because it was like a waterfountain of coca cola!

what a stupid comment! It doesn't even make sense, and is not at all funny.

11

 Apr 21, 2012 at 02:53 AM Anon Ibid Opcit Says:

Reply to #9  
chemistry issue Says:

watch out DHMO poisoning up next.

No. Not even. You can poison yourself with water, but it's very difficult. You have to seriously overtax your kidneys and wash out your electrolytes.

Ten liters of cola a day is an entirely different matter. We know that much sugar, caffeine and phosphoric acid is bad for you. And we know exactly why it is bad for you. It's not a joke.

12

 Apr 22, 2012 at 07:32 AM concerned_Jew Says:

So what? Are they now going to try to ban Coca Cola because of this. Stop this nonsense already. Just because one person abuses something doesn't mean that everyone should give it up. Ridiculous!

13

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