Coke consumption major factor in death, Coroner rules
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.