Image (1) coke-coca-cola-can-flickr-oleg-sklyanchuk-500.jpg for post 44575
Oleg Sklyanchuk

The first Coke slogan I remember is “Coke is Life.” It certainly seemed true in its exuberant ’70s advertisements, but it turned out to be not so true for a 30-year-old New Zealand woman who died recently of cardiac arrhythmia. Physicians are attributing her death to the woman’s Coke habit — over two gallons of Coke a day.

Natasha Harris of Invercargill was — duh — absolutely addicted to Coke. When she didn’t drink it, she had withdrawal symptoms like shaking and irritability. She had also lost all of her teeth, and one of her eight children was born without enamel on its teeth too. And an autopsy found that she had a fatty, oversized liver. Some of this sounds like side effects from drugs, but Harris only did Coke. She didn’t even drink alcohol.

The coroner who performed Harris’ autopsy said that she probably wouldn’t have died if she hadn’t drunk so much Coke. It’s unclear what got her in the end, the sugar or the caffeine, though one imagines that neither did much in positive service of her health.

The Coca-Cola Company, naturally, has declined to take credit. On the one hand, we don’t mind seeing them get taken down a peg for peddling gross sugar water. On the other hand, we can’t blame them — almost anything is bad for you in massive enough quantities, and most people don’t drink this much Coke, though of course people who drink quite a lot do exist. Harris’ family is complaining that they didn’t know the stuff was bad for her because there was no warning label on it, but can you really put a “Warning: Will kill you if ingested in truly ludicrous amounts” label on everything? Probably faster to just issue people a label that says “Warning: Will ingest truly ludicrous amounts of stuff if not stopped.”