News: A Death in Sarawak

Death by durian is not an uncommon occurrence. It's not because durians fall on people's heads while they're out running around the orchard at night, although that happens too, but because of an unknown and unstudied complication that arises with over-consumption. Right now news of a durian related death is rocking Sarawak, where it's peak season and durians are selling for as little as $0.20 US. Even for Malaysians, that's dirt cheap and it makes sense that those with a special durian appetite might take advantage of the low prices to pig out. I would.

Durian deaths are so widespread that in 2004 Thailand actually issued a health warning after a diabetic man died post-consuming five Thai durians. Considering the flesh-seed ratio of Thai durians, that is a lot of durian! While we were in the Philippines, a man was found dead still sitting at a table covered in durian shells and a bottle of coca-cola. We were told that people are hospitalized (and/or die) every year for over-consumption of durian, some of whom consume as many as 12-15 kampung durians. Yikes!  I like to think that at least they died happy.

Luckily Rob and I are young and healthy or else we would probably be dead by now. As reluctant as I am to admit that durian can be overdone, it seems as if people with preexisting conditions of hyptertension and diabetes should go easy on the king of fruit. I'm not saying that durian can cause those conditions, but it does seem to exacerbate the symptoms to the point that some folks suffer heart attack shortly after their durian smorgasbord. Why researchers haven't even begun studying the biological mechanisms of durian consumption is beyond me.

Follow these links to read The Star's coverage of the most recent durian death in Sibu, Sarawak:

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