What The Health?! Man dies after eating 42 hard boiled eggs

Image via Getty Images.
Image via Getty Images.

Can leftover spaghetti really kill you? Can you actually cough up a blood clot in the shape of your lung? In Yahoo Lifestyle Canada‘s newest series, What The Health?!, we ask doctors to weigh in on odd health news stories and set the record straight. Be sure to check back every Friday for the latest.

A 42-year-old man has died after attempting to win an egg-eating competition.

The contest took place in the Jaunpur district of India’s Uttar Pradesh state, after an argument between Subhash Yadav and a friend reportedly took place. The pair decided to resolve the issue by seeing who could consume 50 hard boiled eggs first, possibly inspired from a scene from the film Cool Hand Luke, in which the title character takes on a similar challenge. In this case, the winner was to take home 2,000 rupees, or about $37.

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Yadav was about to ingest his 42nd egg when he fell unconscious. He was taken to the Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, where he died a few hours later.

Paul Newman in the 1967 film, "Cool Hand Luke."
Paul Newman in the 1967 film, Cool Hand Luke.

While an exact cause of death was not disclosed and Yadav’s family has yet to issue a comment, it’s not the first case of someone dying following an egg-eating contest.

In 2013, a 54-year-old woman named Sharon Dixon died by choking on a hard boiled egg in an Easter-egg eating competition at a pub in Grimsby, England. The year before, 20-year old Dhaou Fatnassi of Kairouan, Tunisia died while attempting to eat 28 raw eggs to win a bet among friends.

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Other kinds of speed-eating competitions have also claimed lives. In 2014, a 47-year-old “competitive eater” died by choking during hot-dog eating contest in South Dakota. In 2012, a 32-year-old Florida man who was trying to win a python at a reptile store died after consuming dozens of roaches and worms for the prize (the precise cause of death wasn’t disclosed). Similar eating contests involving pancakes and tacos have also resulted in deaths.

Image via Getty Images.
Image via Getty Images.

“While the ‘sport’ of speed eating has not been well studied and is still a niche activity, it is definitely not something I would recommend people take up,” says Dr. James Heilman, an emergency physician in Cranbrook, British Columbia, who’s on the faculty of emergency medicine at the University of British Columbia. “Reported complications include the loss of the ability of the stomach to contract, aspiration, pneumonia, tears of the esophagus or perforation of the stomach and choking.”

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Heilman, who’s also a Wikipedian, frequently editing Wikipedia’s medical content for accuracy, can’t comment specifically on Yadav’s case. However, he says choking is the most frequent cause of death in speed eating.

People who manage to make it through an eating competition alive still run the risk of experiencing nasty symptoms.

“Physical effects generally include nausea, heartburn, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea,” Heilman says. “Vomiting is also common.”

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