Weight Loss Products That Contain ’DNP’ Can Kill You
WorldMimi Nguyen Ly

The NSW Health department is warning the public against using weight loss products that contain the potentially deadly chemical DNP—also known as 2,4-dinitrophenol.

Weight-loss products that contain this chemical, popularly known as ‘Shredders’, are marketed to fitness, weight loss and bodybuilding communities.

The government body is telling the public not to risk their lives by ingesting this chemical after several people were reported to have died from taking DNP, according to NSW Health. Deaths from DNP have also been reported overseas.

DNP is dangerous even when taken in small amounts, clinical toxicologist and intensive care physician at the NSW Poisons Information Centre, Dr Kylie McArdle, said in a news release.

“There is a myth that if used in small amounts, users will be safe but DNP is an extremely toxic substance,” McArdle said.

“There is no antidote and even with our best medical care, people can and have died using products containing the chemical.”

Industrial Product

“It’s an industrial product, so it’s not legal for human consumption,” Dr Marianne Gale of the NSW Ministry of Health told Ten Daily.

DNP is used as a herbicide and also as a wood preservative. It is also being used to manufacture dyes and explosives.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) classes DNP as a schedule 10 substance, which means it is “of such danger to health as to warrant prohibition of sale, supply, and use.”

DNP was used as a weight loss agent to treat obesity in the 1930s, but it was banned for therapeutic use in 1938 in the United States owing to its adverse effects, which included cataracts, renal failure, and deaths due to body overheating.

The TGA says other symptoms from taking DNP include: marked fatigue, tremendous thirst, profuse sweating, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, restlessness, tachycardia, increased rate of breathing or difficulty breathing, cyanosis, muscle cramps, kidney, and liver injury.

Like Playing ‘Russian Roulette’

One study said that taking products containing DNP is like playing Russian Roulette.

“Owing to the wide variation in individual sensitivity to DNP, what works for most or many—as detailed on the Internet forums and blogs—could be toxic or even lethal to others,” the study said.

“For the first time, it is a Russian Roulette for every single user.”

People can become seriously unwell even within hours of ingesting DNP. The chemical stops the body from storing energy as fat, and so the energy is released as heat—the heat increases body temperature and consequently can damage the cells of organs such as muscles, kidneys, and the brain.

According to the TGA, some DNP users are sourcing the substance or products that contain them as tablets or capsules from the internet.

But NSW Health says that everyone should steer clear of any such products have ‘DNP’ listed in the ingredients. Other products that are being promoted as a weight loss agent, but are from an unverified source, should also be avoided.

For further information on this topic, NSW residents can call the NSW Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26. For any person with symptoms following known or suspected ingestion of DNP, phone for emergency help immediately.