Today the a doctor has urged the UK government to shut down websites which are selling dangerous and illegal “fat loss drugs”. DNP is a chemical which speeds up metabolism to dangerous levels. It has killed several people already, and DNP pills are readily available online.
In October 2012 Sean Cleathero, a young father, use to go to the gym to try to lose weight. He bought DNP (2,4-Dinitrophenol) to try to speed up weight loss. He died shortly afterwards, aged just 28 years old.
Not for human consumption
DNP is an industrial chemical (meaning simply, not for human consumption) which has been sold as an illegal weight loss drug. Sometimes the consequences have been lethal.
In 1938 the American Food and Drug Agency issued a statement saying DNP was “extremely dangerous and not fit for human consumption”.
DNP is used in pesticides, wood preservatives and chemical dyes. It can be obtained legally for these and similar purposes, but it is illegal to sell or market it as a weight loss / fat loss drug.
Dr Adam Carey from the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Association explained to the BBC why it is so dangerous, and urged for action to be taken against the websites which sell it.
“If you go on to the Internet at the moment and put in “buy cocaine”, if there was a site somebody would go and sort it out and close it down. I don’t understand why there are 30 to 50 sites at any one time where you can go and buy things which are completely illegal in this country, in America, and everywhere else, but they are trading as organisations and will deliver those products to our children at home”.
Dr Carey has raised the point that often the sports nutrition industry gets confused with a “whole bunch of other products which have nothing to do with sports or nutrition” – i.e. weight loss, fat loss.
The pressure on young men to look fit and slim is just as intense now as it is for women to look good.
Illegal quick fixes such as DNP increase the metabolic rate. This increase can be very dangerous.
DNP side effects
All of these are potentially dangerous and a combination can lead to hospitalisation or death:
- flushed skin
- excessive sweating
- rapid breathing
- rapid or irregular heartbeat
Long-term use of the drug damages the eyes, heart and nervous system. If the drugs don’t kill you they may leave you with disabilities later in life.
Sean Cletheroe is not the only victim of DNP. In September 2013, Chris Mapletoft, a teenage rugby player, died after taking the drug. He was fit and healthy before taking the drug. His parents told the Irish Times that he decided to “take a chance” with DNP as he wanted a six pack for his post-exams holiday celebration. Peer pressure to look good on the beach killed him.
Sarah Houston, a student doctor, was killed after taking DNP. She was just 23 years old. Sarah had suffered eating disorders since the age of 14, but those around her thought that she had recovered. She was secretly buying DNP pills from the Internet.
The role of Google
It is far too easy to find illegal drugs online today. Google and other search engines should remove the pages and make it impossible for people to search for these products.
A quick search just now found one website selling 100 pills for $80, from a Turkish manufacturer, and another website (which has “Lucky” in its name, probably because if you are lucky you will survive) is selling 60 capsules for $39.99.
For those who wish to lose weight, exercise and nutrition is key – don’t take drugs for quick results, it might be the last thing you do.
The NHS has already issued a warning, but who reads the NHS information pages?