Coca-Cola 'substantial factor' in death
Tue, 12 Feb 2013 3:59p.m.
By Thomas Mead
An Invercargill woman who drank up to 10 litres of Coca-Cola a day is likely to have died from the soft drink, a coroner has found.
Natasha Harris, a 30-year-old mother of eight, died of a heart attack on the toilet in her home on February 25, 2010. However, at the time there was no obvious cause of death and the corner was called to investigate.
In a report released today, Coronor David Crerar criticised Ms Harris' excessive consumption of Coke, between six and 10 litres a day, saying the soft drink was a major factor in her death.
"Natasha Harris knew, or ought to have known and recognised, the health hazard of her chosen diet and lifestyle," he said.
"It is more likely than not that the drinking of very large quantities of Coke was a substantial factor that contributed to the development of the metabolic imbalances, which gave rise to arrhythmia (a heart attack)."
Ms Crerar says pre-existing conditions such as persistent vomiting and a poor diet also contributed to Ms Harris' heart failure, but he says these alone could not have caused her death.
"Were it not for the consumption of very large quantities of Coke it is unlikely that she would have died when she died and how she died," he said.
A statement from Ms Harris's long-time partner Christopher Hodgkinson suggests she was addicted to Coke and would suffer withdrawals from the soft drink.
"She would get moody and get headaches if she didn't have any Coke and also feel low in energy," he said.
Mr Hodgkinson says the effects of Ms Harris' excessive consumption were widespread, with many of her teeth rotting out and one of her children being born without tooth enamel.
A set of recommendations has been sent to the Ministry of Health and Coca Cola. Among them, Mr Crerar says more should be done to properly label drinks high in caffeine.
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14/02/2013 7:37:32 p.m.
albert Rogers wrote:
Was it the sugar, or the caffeine?
14/02/2013 4:25:05 p.m.
I can attest to the withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop drinking Coke. As a teenager and young adult I suffered from migraines that would last days at a time but they pale in comparison to the excruciating headaches/migraines of Coke-a-Cola withdrawal. Then there's the shakiness, inability to concentrate and irritability as well. It's horrible because the only drink I crave is Coke. I don't crave water or juice, I don't drink tea or coffee at all and I don't drink any other kind of soft drink. I've quit drinking Coke several times in the paste but the desire to drink it is overwhelming. It's absolutely awful. I don't drink alcohol or smoke either. I can understand her wanting to drink Coke but I can't understand why so much. Then again if I had 10L of it in my home I think I would drink it within about 3 days. I feel terrible for her partner and children, it is very sad.
13/02/2013 3:13:17 p.m.
Dr. Niroshan Sivathasan wrote:
People need to take responsibility for their own actions. That is the bottom line.
I cannot understand how beverage-makers (e.g. Coca Cola) can be held liable, even if just in part, for the ridiculous and reckless actions of foolish individuals, like Natasha Harris.
I think it is appalling how the legal system entertains lawsuits from fat people who blame McDonalds and KFC, from people from generation-Y or generation-Z who blame tobacco-companies, et.c..
It is particularly annoying when society gets disadvantaged by restrictions imposed by 'do-gooder' authorities and when society has to pay the legal bills associated with the lawsuit-happy approaches of those who lack the strength to accept their bad decisions and own liabilities.
13/02/2013 8:03:51 a.m.
Its possible to die from drinking water, so do we need health warnings on water too, including every tap in the country?
13/02/2013 1:43:04 a.m.
Consumption of that much water per day could also cause heart failure through lowering sodium levels.The tooth enamel problem, considering only one of her children had the problem, is more likely to be a random genetic defect.Clearly this woman had major health issues, quite likely hormone related, that had not been identified and dealt with. This could be evidenced by her vomiting which would trigger an anti-diuretic hormone release that made her want to drink. The fact she chose to drink coke could be related to the natural oils in coke's formulation that may have helped her hormone imbalance. It is disingenuous of the coronor to blame Coke. Coke consumption was just a symptom of her health problems.
13/02/2013 12:57:47 a.m.
How can anyone drink 10 litres of anything in one day. she must have sloshed when she moved. Coke is disgusting toxic waste, why anyone would want to drink it is beyond me.
12/02/2013 6:58:41 p.m.
Charles H wrote:
Sure you can add more warnings to the label, but ever heard of common sense? Any sane individual must be able to realise that drinking a large quantity of just about anything (short of water) will have an impact on your health!
You don't need a label to tell you that drinking 10 litres of coke is a bad idea.
12/02/2013 5:08:39 p.m.
Kate Ross wrote:
I wouldn't have believed it possible until now! I shall certainly watch my own consumption of these soft drinks and limit them to once a week!
12/02/2013 4:57:14 p.m.
Peter Jamieson wrote:
If the government wont do much about alcohol why would they act on Coke?
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