No Licorice Now? Wow, Pregnancy is a Rough Gig

Filed under: Nutrition: Health, Medical Conditions, In The News, Weird But True, Nutrition, Pregnancy Health

Licorice

Pregnant? Lay off the licorice. Credit: Getty Images

"I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing. In pain you will bring forth children." -- Genesis 3:16

Wow. No kidding.

Forget labor pains. Pregnancy itself can be a bummer, what with the morning sickness and all. And it was bad enough when you couldn't drink or smoke during pregnancy.

Now it looks like you can't have any licorice, either.

Britain's Daily Mail reports that researchers at London's Great Ormond Street Hospital and the University of Helsinki have discovered that 8-year-olds exposed to licorice in the womb had heightened levels of the hormone cortisol.

The hormone helps the body deal with stress, but too much of it has been linked to diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.

The licoriced 8-year-olds studied, the Mail reports, had a third higher amount of cortisol than kids whose mamas stayed out of the licorice cabinet.

But, you protest, you have just a little licorice problem? Wake up and smell the candy store, researchers tell the Mail.

They found that mothers who ate even half a gram of licorice a week had heightened cortisol levels. (Four sticks of licorice Twizzlers -- the average "serving" size -- contain 45 grams.)

Blame glycyrrhizin. Scientists believe the presence of glycyrrhizin (a naturally occurring and very sweet ingredient of licorice) messes up the body's ability to regulate hormone levels.

"For those who eat a lot of licorice, it may be a good idea to cut down when pregnant," clinical scientist Alexander Jones of Great Ormond Street, one of the study's authors, tells the Mail.

Related: Grandma Gave Me Cancer: Pregnancy Diet May Affect Generations

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