By Peter Russell
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Rob Hicks, MD
May 6, 2015 -- The international police agency Interpol has issued a global alert about an illegal and potentially lethal drug used for dieting and bodybuilding.
Latest Diet & Weight Management News
The warning concerns "2,4-dinitrophenol" (DNP), a combination of compounds that increases body temperature and metabolic rate. Last month a British woman who'd taken pills containing DNP died. The drug also left a French man seriously ill.
DNP, which is also used as a raw material for explosives, is linked to other deaths too. It's highly toxic and causes side effects like hot, dry skin, excessive thirst, and an unusually fast heartbeat.
The drug is being sold on the Internet. It's usually sold in yellow powder or capsule form, but it's also available as a cream.
Back in the 1930s it was marketed as a weight loss drug.
'Burning Up From Within'
In April, 21-year-old Eloise Parry died in a hospital after taking tablets she bought online. Police believe they included DNP. Her family has described how "she was literally burning up from within" before her heart stopped.
An Interpol "orange notice," which warns of imminent threats, has been sent to police in 190 Interpol member countries at the request of the French interior ministry.
The French authorities and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) say they want to draw attention to the growing popularity of DNP as an aid to improving body image and performance, particularly in the bodybuilding world.
The orange notice says the risks are even higher because DNP is usually made in secret laboratories where hygiene conditions may be poor.
"We are appreciative that Interpol has issued this global warning," says David Howman, director general of WADA. "This is a perfect example of how crucial it is that law enforcement and anti-doping organizations continue to forge closer ties so that dangerous, and potentially fatal, substances such as DNP do not reach the hands of athletes."
SOURCES: Interpol.Bodybuilding and sports supplements: the facts, NHS Choices.The Guardian.
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