DNP has found itself in the headlines quite a lot this year. This article attempts to explain its origin, analyse its usage and highlight its dangers.
2,4-Dinitrophenol (or DNP) was first used in the early 1900s to detonate TNT explosives. When a number of munitions workers began experiencing sudden, substantial and unexplained reductions in body weight, DNP started to attract lots of attention as a potential weight loss drug.
It is worth noting that, in addition to weight loss, the workers also experienced headaches, nausea, dizziness, insomnia and excessive sweating. Despite the fact that it was only supported by short-term studies, DNP became very popular during the 1930s as a metabolism-boosting diet drug. The chemical was sold in the US by more than 20 different companies (without a prescription, warnings or usage directions) and it is estimated that over 100,000 people were using it to achieve rapid weight loss.
However, it was not long before regular DNP users started to experience a number of toxic reactions, including skin rashes, jaundice and blindness, and it was finally removed from the market by the FDA in 1938 following a number of deaths. Although banned for human consumption, DNP is not illegal since it is commonly used to make dyes, wood preservatives and weed killers.
The chemical is easily available online in capsule form and has continued to remain popular amongst professional bodybuilders and athletes wanting to burn fat and improve muscle definition in a very short space of time. Now in 2013 (75 years after the FDA ban), there has been a series of tragedies in the UK that can be directly linked to the consumption of DNP.
The recent death of Chris Mapletoft, an 18-year-old rugby player from London, follows on from the deaths of 23-year-old medical student Sarah Houston and 18-year-old fitness fanatic Sarmad Alladin earlier this year. All three died after taking the highly dangerous substance in order to lose weight. DNP interferes with a process called oxidative phosphorylation in order to inhibit production of the body’s immediate energy substance - Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) - which leads to a rapid use of other available energy sources by the body, particularly fat. The main danger with this lack of ATP energy production comes from the extreme rise in body temperature that it causes.
The heat can quickly exceed the body’s capacity and result in symptoms similar to those of heat stroke and heat exhaustion. This kind of severe overheating can result in users of the drug literally ‘cooking from the inside out’. The FDA has warned consumers not to take pills containing any level of DNP, which has now been linked to over 60 deaths worldwide.
It has also advised not to get drawn in with false claims and untested treatments, instead looking for reputable companies who adhere to all European safety guidelines. It should be stated that DNP is not a diet pill - it is a drug. There are many supplements on the market that are completely safe and 100% legal, and it is these products that consumers should consider before risking their health, and quite possible their lives, by taking dangerous chemical substances such as DNP.
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