Feature

Health scare of the week: A different kind of drinking problem

Consuming huge amounts of cola can change blood chemistry in dangerous ways. 

The most popular soft drink in the world is cola, and some people like it so much that they drink gallons every day. Researchers in Greece have found that consuming huge amounts of cola can apparently cause hypokalemia, a dangerous deficiency of potassium that can lead to loss of muscle strength, heart palpitations, nausea, and heart problems. In one case, an Australian farmer who guzzled cola all day suddenly found he couldn’t breathe and was rushed to the hospital; his lungs were paralyzed. When he stopped drinking cola, he made a full recovery. Two pregnant women who drank liters of cola every day also wound up in the hospital, suffering from muscle weakness, appetite loss, and frequent vomiting. The high levels of sugar in cola, as well its caffeine, can change blood chemistry in dangerous ways, researchers said. Because of “aggressive mass marketing and super-sizing of soft drinks,” says Dr. Clifford Packer, “tens of millions” of people throughout the world now drink cola to the exclusion of all other beverages, including water. 

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