Cardiovascular adverse health effect of occupational exposure to Licorice dust


Masoud Neghab 1 , * , Fatemeh Eslahipishe 2

1 Research Center for Health Sciences, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran.

2 Bachelor of Occupational Health, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran.

How to Cite: Neghab M, Eslahipishe F. Cardiovascular adverse health effect of occupational exposure to Licorice dust, Hormozgan Med J. 2009 ; 13(1):e88625.


Hormozgan Medical Journal: 13 (1); e88625
Published Online: October 08, 2008
Article Type: Research Article
Received: July 15, 2007
Accepted: October 08, 2008


Introduction: Prolonged use of licorice is known to cause headaches, hypertension,
cardiac arrhythmias, edema, lethargy, shortness of breath, sodium retention and loss of
potassium in healthy people. However, to best of authors' knowledge, to date, the
potential adverse health effects of occupational inhalation exposure to licorice dust have
not been examined. This study was, therefore, under look to address this issue.
Methods: In this cross-sectional study, the individuals (30 workers) occupationally
exposed to licorice dust at a licorice-producing plant in Shiraz were recruited. Similarly,
30 healthy male unexposed employees at a telecommunication industry, with identical
demographic and socioeconomic substance served as control group. A pre-designed
questionnaire was completed for both groups. Systolic and diastolic blood pressures were
measured. Additionally, they underwent electrocardiography, clinical examination and
blood chemistry test. To assess the extent to which subjects had been exposed to licorice
dust, atmospheric concentrations of this aerosol were also measured in the plant. Data
were statistically analyzed using INSTAT software.
Results: While there was no significant differences between exposed and control group as
far as demographic variables are concerned, mean values for systolic and diastolic blood
pressure of exposed subjects were significantly higher than those of the control subjects.
Similarly, blood analysis revealed that serum concentrations of potassium ion as well as
platelet counts were significantly lower in exposed subjects than controls. Analysis of the
questionnaires also demonstrated that symptoms such as headache, lethargy and vertigo were
more common in exposed subjects. No abnormal changes in electrocardiographs were noted in
both the groups.
Conclusion: Collectively, our findings provide evidence in favor of the notion that
inhalation exposure, to high concentrations of licorice dust is associated with higher
prevalence of headache, lethargy and vertigo as well as raised blood pressure and
hypokalemia. Although none of these changes reached to a level with pathological
significance. Additionally, these findings indicate that licorice induces mild thrombocypenia.



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