A New Zealand coroner has told an inquest that Natasha Harris, a mother of eight who suffered a heart attack in 2010, would not have died if she hadn't been dependent on on Coca-Cola.
In findings released Feb. 12, coroner David Crerar wrote:
"I find that, when all of the available evidence is considered, were it not for the consumption of very large quantities of Coke by Natasha Harris, it is unlikely that she would have died when she died and how she died.''
As reported by the Associated Press last year, Harris, a 31-year-old stay-at-home mom, drank more than two gallons of the soft drink every day. Chris Hodgkinson, the woman's partner, said Harris was "addicted to Coke" and had unhealthy habits, such as eating very little and smoking up to 30 cigarettes a day.
Crerar calculated that Harris' intake of Coca-Cola meant that she ingested the equivalent of two pounds of sugar and 970 milligrams of caffeine per day, according to Television New Zealand. Her family claims Harris suffered from withdrawal symptoms when she didn't have access to her beverage of choice.
Harris' consumption of sugar and caffeine had serious effects on her health. In his finding, Crerar said that Harris had developed cardiac arrhythmia because of her cola habit.
"[She would] go crazy if she ran out... she would get the shakes, withdrawal symptoms, be angry, on edge and snappy," her mother-in-law told the coroner's inquest last year, the BBC notes.
A post-mortem revealed that the woman had an enlarged liver. As Television New Zealand notes, deposits of fat were also found within the liver and they were attributed to the consumption of "excessive amounts of sugar," according to a deposition by pathologist Dr. Dan Mornin.
Coca-Cola released a statement Tuesday that expressed dissatisfaction with the coroner's report. It read, in part:
"[We] are disappointed that the coroner has chosen to focus on the combination of Ms Harris' excessive consumption of Coca-Cola, together with other health and lifestyle factors, as the probable cause of her death. This is contrary to the evidence that showed the experts could not agree on the most likely cause."
As Gawker notes, Crerar doesn't think that Coca-Cola should be held responsible for Harris' death; however, he does suggest the company should consider putting warning labels on its drinks.
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