Weight Loss History: The Terrible Story of Dinitrophenol
A Drug That Worked Miraculously (and Made People Go Blind)
2,4 dinitrophenol (DNP) was the most
effective and dangerous weight-control drug
in history. It is a violently explosive yellow
crystalline powder that is not found in nature
and was originally used during the first World
War by the French in the manufacture of
dynamite caps. At that time, many workers
who were exposed to the chemical lost
weight but it took over a decade for the
emerging science of biochemistry to explain
DNP is a class of chemical called an
"uncoupler of oxidative phosphorylation". This
means that DNP prevents most of the energy
in nutrients from being used to make ATP
(the fuel of life) and that instead, the
nutrient energy gets burned off as heat. In
fact, people who overdose on DNP literally
cook themselves to death.
Very little of this was appreciated in 1933 when Cutting and Tainter--both
medical researchers at Stanford University--published the first report on the
use of DNP for weight control. Initially, DNP looked very promising, all the more
so because it was incredibly effective. By 1934, at least 100,000 Americans
were taking DNP for weight loss. Within three years after that, it became clear
that DNP was pretty dangerous stuff. A number of people died by accidental
overdose (as described above, they cooked from the inside-out) and hundreds
of women who had taken DNP had rapidly developed severe cataracts that left
them totally blind.
By 1939, the FDA was extremely concerned about DNP and was finally able to
ban it from all human use in the US. However, the story doesn't end there.
In the 1980's a Physician in Texas began using DNP on patients as part of an
$11,000 weight loss program. He was ordering the chemical from Eastman Kodak
Company who sold it only for use in film developing. The doctor would then
have the chemical repackaged into a capsule and dispensed to patients. The
doctor did not hide that he was using DNP-every bottle said so clearly- and
patients lined up to get the stuff. As soon as the FDA learned of this, it wrote
the doctor advising him that DNP was dangerous and not approved for human
use. The doctor replied that the FDA had no authority over the practice of
medicine (and to this day it does not) and that because he was only dispensing
the chemical in one State, he was violating no federal law. It took several years
for the State of Texas to force the doctor to stop prescibing DNP to people.
Oddly the doctor did not go to jail for DNP, but he was sentenced several years
later for insurance fraud.
The story of DNP doesn't end there. Some hard-core bodybuilders still use DNP
to burn fat and the chemical is widely advertised for sale on the internet.
Because DNP is still being used by people, people are still dying from it too.
Below is an internet add for DNP. I have "photo-shopped" out any identifying
information or "instructions".
One of Many Websites Claiming to Sell DNP
2,4 dinitrophenol is an extremely dangerous chemical that is toxic to humans, animals
and plant life. It should never be ingested in any amount for any reason.
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