Cokehead: Woman Drinks only Cola for 16 Years, Her Body Hates Itself

Coke Forever

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: a 31-year-old woman in Monaco faints. She’s brought to the hospital, where a a panel of tests reveal she has insanely low potassium levels, and an erratic and irregular heart beat. The lady doesn’t have a history of heart or hormone problems. Her symptoms are a bit of a mystery until, in true Dr. House fashion, the doctors look into her past to find the source of the problem: for the last 16 years she’s only had cola to drink.

As it turns out, if someone only drink cola for 16 years at a rate of 2 liters per day, the human body starts to fall apart. But here’s the happy news: the doctors told her to stop drinking the brown carbonated elixer and within a week her potassium levels grew and her heart beat returned to a healthy rhythm.

Just like the findings of the film Supersize Me, in which filmmaker Morgan Spurlock ate nothing but McDonald’s for a month, these results are alarming but don’t really apply to universal circumstances. While a connection between constant cola consumption and severe health risks can be found, there are very few people who exclusively consume one thing.

So what exactly happened to her body? It’s likely the excessive amount of cola caused excess water to pass into her bowels, which caused diarrhea and therefore a loss of potassium. Another theory is that the massive amounts of caffeine from the soda caused an increase in urine production. Caffeine is a diuretic, which is why you constantly run to the bathroom after drinking iced tea and coffee. The extra urine production would decrease the amount of potassium the body can reabsorb.

Potassium is an important component in creating electrical potential on a cellular level in the body. This allows muscles to move, and the heart is just one constantly moving muscle. In the case of this unfortunate French lady, her potassium levels were around 2.4 mmol/L—half the recommended level for a woman her age. And this drop in potassium caused an increase in her QT interval, a measure of the time between the Q and T waves of a heart beat. If the QT interval gets too long, the heart is barely beating, and the person can easily die. Hers was 610 ms. Normal is no more than 450 ms. Got it? K.

This isn’t the first instance of someone suffering maladies from consuming soda. Drinking diet soda can cause teeth to disintegrate much like crystal meth can, and coke addiction can kill. But this tale is mostly a cautionary one. Think of it like a old wives’ tale, and try to have a glass of water every once in a while.

Blake J. Graham drank a Big Gulp of Dr. Pepper while writing this article


NY Mag
Popular Science

Commentary Ticker

  • Google Glass Lets You Take Photos With Your Brain
    July 12, 2014 | 4:02 pm

    If you haven’t heard, electroencephalograms (EEGs) have been getting better. Way better. Artificial limbs and even video game controllers are utilizing the non-invasive brain-wave monitoring method to guide computers by thought. Now English startup This Place has developed a way to bring the technology to Google Glass, allowing Google’s wearable to read your mind. Well, […]

  • Android Art: The Accidental Selfies of Google Art Project
    July 5, 2014 | 11:11 am

    Within the cultural centers of the world lurks a mechanical beast draped in silver spinning madly and capturing everything, sometimes even itself. In 2011 Google created the Art Project, an initiative to bring their Street View technology inside the cultural epicenters of the world. Google enlisted 17 world-class museums in short time. Institutions such as […]

  • Purple Mountunes Majesty: The Most Patriotic Playlist
    July 4, 2014 | 12:13 pm

    A while ago, Paul Lamere of The Echo Nest, a music-analysis company, took to finding each state’s most distinctive, yet popular, artist in a viral article. Spotify took note, purchasing Echo Nest for their analytical talent. Together, they’ve released a blog post documenting each state’s most distinctively American song creating a patriotic playlist for the […]

  • Emojinealogy: Where the Heck Emojis Come From
    July 2, 2014 | 3:10 pm

    On June 16th, the Unicode Consortium announced that 250 new emoji would be added to the list of symbols available to people’s cellphones and computer devices. The list of the new symbols can be found on Emojipedia. And no, the list doesn’t include the much needed minority representation, but it does include your favorite (?) […]

  • The Decline and Fall of the American Mall
    June 24, 2014 | 9:07 pm

    For ages, the shopping mall was as essential to the architecture of suburbia as Levittowns and freeways. But in an era of online shopping, these epicenters of brick and mortar yesteryear are quietly being abandoned across the country. While the U.S. currently has around 1,500, the number may soon shrink, and rapidly, leading to abandoned […]

  • RSSArchive for Commentary Ticker »

Join our mailing list!

Trending on The Airspace