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The Danger of DNP

DNP, a drug that is banned from human consumption, has recently caused a stir after an inquest into the death of Sarah Houston found that it was to blame for the fatality. This is not the first time that the drug has been linked to deaths; in February this year body builder Sarmad Alladin or “Mr Muscles” as he was known, died after taking DNP to help him lose weight. Back in 2008 Selena Walrond died of a heart attack after taking a large dose of the drug. In total there have been 62 deaths that have been related to DNP.

So What Is DNP?

Its full name is 2,4-Dinitrophenols and it causes the rapid consumption of energy as it inhibits the generation of ATP (energy) in cells. By doing this DNP increases the metabolic rate (burning more fat) in order to compensate for the inefficiency and meet energy demands within the body. It was widely used in diet pills between 1933 and 1938 after a study at Stanford University found that it could greatly increase metabolic rate. Within its first year on the market as a dietary aid it was estimated that at least 100,000 people in the US had been treated with the drug. By 1938 concerns had begun to grow about the severity of the side effects that can result after taking DNP and as a result it was discontinued.

An overdose of DNP in humans causes fatal hyperthermia and also heart attacks. The severity of its side effects in humans is still fully unknown and therefore, the drug has been deemed too dangerous for human consumption. However, DNP is still available and legal for the use as a pesticide, making it possible for people to purchase it online. The family of Sarah Houston declared that is was ‘incomprehensible’ that such a dangerous drug can be purchased over the Internet and are campaigning for a change in the law that would make DNP illegal. The police have claimed, however, that it will be difficult to make DNP illegal because of its effective use of a pesticide. David Cameron has pledged to look into the representation of DNP and how to highlight the dangers of taking it as a slimming pill.

What is worrying is that despite the drug being banned for consumption by humans, is that it is still available in capsule form. This indicates that even though the dangers of the drug are known, the manufacturers are still benefiting from its use as a slimming aid. In a society where there is an increasing desire to be thin, with people going to extreme lengths – only recently it was revealed that catwalk models eat tissue paper to stay thin – something clearly needs to be done to prevent the drug from being misused.

Despite the uncertain nature of DNP, what is sure is that it is a drug that cannot be underestimated. It may be an effective weight loss pill but it can have serious, and in some cases, fatal side effects. Whilst the jury is still out on what will come of DNP, we at HCX would like to know what you think. Do you think that DNP should be made illegal? Or should more strict measures be implemented concerning its availability and manufacture?


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