My assignment for one of my classes this week is to read Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, which is considered "the book that started the environmental movement." Most people know "Silent Spring" and Rachel Carson for exposing the dangers of DDT, an insecticide that was frequently used for mosquito and pest control.
Another chemical she spoke of was the dinitrophenol, an organic compound that was used as an herbicide. Originally, wrote Carson, dinitrophenol was used as a diet aid until it was realized that the line between "effective as a diet aid" and "will kill you" was far too thin. Pun intended. This continues into today, whether it is modern pharmaceuticals for a variety of purposes that can have dangerous side effects (such as Avandia and Vioxx), or so-called "safe" diet drugs like Alli, ephedra, and fen-phen.
So we really haven't come all that far. We are still willing to poison our bodies to lose weight. But at least, I told myself, this stuff was off the market.
Like many other people, Google and PubMed are a recreational sport. If I'm curious, I type a word into Google or PubMed or both and see what pops up. One of the first hits for dinitrophenol on Google was as a weight loss aid. In fact, it is "gaining in popularity." This same site has this to say about its history:
In 1931 a study released by Stanford University declared that DNP was able to cause amazing weight loss; subsequently it found its way into many diet potions and medications; regulation was much less strict during this time than the present, and many of these products were available over the counter. Two years later DNP was banned by the FDA as a dieting agent due to its inclusion in many OTC dietary supplements. The FDA was a new organization at this time and acted in a rather brazen manner, with the absence of any set procedures for taking substances off the market. Granted, there was only a 1% incidence of cataracts over a large population (around 100,000); nonetheless it happened (although interestingly, exclusively women). However, there are now ways to counter this which will be covered thoroughly.
Shame on that bad FDA, taking drugs that will help people lose weight off the market even though it might leave them blind or dead. Not that this has proved to be much of a deterrent.
Yep. Still being used. It's sold on "Muscle Man," which also contains instructions for injecting anabolic steroids. Obviously a reputable site. This isn't the only place, however. Another site tells you how dangerous it is and how likely you are to be maimed and killed by this drug, but is also quite willing to let you purchase it. All hail for the Company That Cares.
The warnings (on a site that has the drug for sale) go as follows:
NOTE: THE CONSUMPTION OF DNP AS A WEIGHT LOSS AGENT IS NOT RECOMMENDED WHATSOEVER UNLESS OTHERWISE APPROVED BY A QUALIFIED PHYSICIAN NOR ARE THE PRODUCTS ADVERTISED ON THIS WEBSITE DESIGNED FOR SUCH USE UNLESS OTHERWISE SPECIFIED. THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS BASED ON RESEARCH OF HISTORIC USE AND IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY.
Risks of using 2,4-Dinitrophenol DNP for Weight Loss
Hearing all of these wonderful things probably has you wondering what the side effects and risks are. They are quite formidable and contribute to making DNP one of the most intolerable (though effective) drugs used in bodybuilding.
Overheating - There is no upper limit to DNP's body temperature increase, meaning that one may literally "cook from the inside" if they take too much. Dosage considerations will be given later, but even an overdose of 4-6 times the recommended dosage may be lethal. Much smaller overdoses may result in damage to the brain and/or other body systems such as the liver and kidneys. Supplements help reduce this risk.
Dehydration - Probably the single most dangerous aspect of DNP usage, dehydration sets in when the muscles and other body systems do not have enough glucose to stay properly hydrated. The body's temperature raise is much more harmful when it has no water to regulate temperatures and glucose levels. This can be battled b y replacing electrolytes with Potassium supplementation and supplementing with Glycerol, a muscle hydrator and energizer.
Carcinogenesis - Phenols in general are reputed to be carcinogenic. Although 2,4-dinitrophenol has never been implicated in a cancer diagnosis, some are nonetheless concerned, and understandably so. In addition to the inherent carcinogenic potential caused by its status as a phenol, production of free radicals and the release of various compounds stored in adipose tissue stores during DNP's rapid oxidation of fat may also potentially be harmful.
Discomfort and sweating - This is the single most noticeable effect of DNP use, both by the user and those around him/her. Even in the winter, while indoors at ambient temperatures, one may expect his or her shirt to be completely soaked through with sweat. Those with jobs requiring formal or semi-formal apparel are advised to consider other means of fat loss (or a new job, if preferred). Other obvious considerations lie in the areas of social life, personal appearance, etc. and the user must prioritize.
Insomnia - Second in frequency of reports to sweating and discomfort is insomnia. This may be at least partially attributed to discomfort. Possible means of countering this include such supplements as Valerian root or melatonin. Alternatively, one may deal with this via prescription or OTC sleep medications or GHB-A precursors. However, these may be addictive if used on a regular basis and if their use may be avoided, by all means abstain from using them.
Yellow bodily fluids - Some don't notice this, but others find that all of their bodily fluids take on a yellowish appearance. Urine is a darker yellow, and even semen and vaginal secretions may be affected. According to current knowledge, this is not known to be harmful in and of itself.
Muscle soreness - This is yet another thing that may be minimized via cerebral function. Dan Duchaine has recommended using a weight such as to allow no fewer than 15 reps per set of any weight training workout; judging from anecdotal reports and personal experience, this seems to be good advice. Low levels of ATP are a cause of muscle soreness in and of itself. The additional factor of encumbered recovery mechanisms make extreme soreness (and if not careful, catabolism) quite possible.
Allergic reactions - These are highly individualized but may be summarily discussed. Various reactions are common with DNP use, and approximately 10% of users will be extremely allergic to it. Allergic reactions can include hives, blisters, and/or inexplicable rashes.
Carbohydrate Cravings - To counter this, some methods will be touched on later. As with most diets, willpower is sometimes the single most important factor. Other drugs such as Meridia and supplements such as Hot Rox give a user the edge to combat these cravings as well as boost energy.
(all italics mine)
This is what the company is willing to tell you. Vioxx never said "this could stop your heart" on the TV commercials, yet it could and it did. This is also not a company that is under even a hint of regulations from the FDA (it's not even an American company!). You might have cancer and yellow semen* but you will be thin.
Yet as much as dinitrophenol has been slammed as a carcinogen, it is being pursued as a cancer treatment. Why? It's toxic. Cancer are just normal body cells dividing rapidly because they're all hopped up on the equivalent of cellular coffee and meth. The whole point of cancer treatment is to kill the cancer cells. You want something toxic. Dinitrophenol is toxic. It kills the cells.
Frankly, however, you'll be lucky to survive long enough to get cancer if you mess around with this stuff. Japanese scientists found it to be toxic in rats at 0.78 mg/kg of body weight. The website above said a dose up to 300 mg/day was safe. That means you would have to weigh well over 300 kg for this stuff to be safe on a long term basis.
Not gonna happen.
The EPA has this to say about dinitrophenol:
2,4-Dinitrophenol is used in the manufacture of dyes, wood preservatives, and as a pesticide. The acute (short-term) effects of 2,4-dinitrophenol in humans through oral exposure are nausea, vomiting, sweating, dizziness, headaches, and loss of weight. Chronic (long-term) oral exposure to 2,4-dinitrophenol in humans has resulted in the formation of cataracts and skin lesions, weight loss, and has caused effects on the bone marrow, central nervous system (CNS), and cardiovascular system. Limited or no information is available on the developmental, reproductive, or carcinogenic effects of 2,4-dinitrophenol in humans. EPA has not classified 2,4-dinitrophenol for carcinogenicity.
The moral of the story is this: don't buy weight loss supplements. But if you do, don't by them in the Gardening Department at Home Depot.
*Not that most girls would likely realize this because you'd be sweating so profusely they probably wouldn't get very close.