Woman's Coca-Cola 'habit' cited in death

Published On: Apr 20 2012 02:16:52 PM EDT
Updated On: Apr 21 2012 08:12:48 PM EDT
cans of Coke, Coca-Cola

Joshua Lott/Reuters

Drinking 2 gallons of Coca-Cola a day likely contributed to the death of a 30-year-old New Zealand mother, experts said during an inquest hearing into the woman's death.

Natasha Harris, a 30-year-old, stay-at-home mother of eight from Invercargill, died of a heart attack in February 2010, The Associated Press reported.

According to The New Zealand Herald, pathologist Dr. Dan Mornin testified on Thursday that she probably suffered from hypokalemia, or low potassium, which he believed was caused by her excessive consumption of Coke and overall poor nutrition.

"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," Harris'partner, Chris Hodgkinson, said in a deposition. "She was addicted to Coke."

He also said she ate little and smoked about 30 cigarettes a day. The morning she died, Harris helped her children get ready for school before slumping against the wall, Hodgkinson testified.

Inquests are held in New Zealand for unusual or unexplained deaths, according to CBS News.

Karen Thompson, a spokeswoman for Coca-Cola Oceania, told the AP 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," she said.

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