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DNP-The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

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by Josh Hodnik

DNP is a controversial chemical in the bodybuilding world that has received it’s praise for its ability shed body fat in a short amount of time, but it has also received its fair share of criticism. The chemical 2,4 dinitrophenol, (also known as DNP) probably deserves the bashing it has received. Numerous people have died from ingesting this chemical as a means to lose body fat very quickly.

It has been estimated that over 60 people have died from using DNP. The views from people that are familiar with DNP have a very strong contrast. Many believe that the deaths resulting from DNP use occur only when the chemical is abused, and others believe that this drug can be deadly even when taken along the lines of the strict protocol that has been suggested for decades. I am not here to suggest that either side is right or wrong, but merely to state the facts.

The chemical known as DNP works by inhibiting the F0F1 adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, synthase molecule in the body. ATP is used in cellular energy transfer, transferring energy within cells. The body converts adenosine diphosphate into ATP and converts it back to adenosine phosphate after being used. DNP inhibits this synthesis and energy is expelled as heat.

This results in a metabolic increase of about 50 percent, which has resulted fat loss in the range of a pound of body fat per day. This is something that would spark an interest in any dieter.

DNP has been in production for almost a century, and it was first used on an industrial scale in French munitions factories during the First World War. It was mixed with picric acid to make explosives, and workers that were exposed to DNP when making explosives, experienced weight loss, elevated body temperature, and excessive sweating. During this time there was not much known about the risk associated with DNP exposure and many deaths occurred due to this lack of knowledge.

A Stanford University study conducted in 1931 showed that DNP had the ability to dramatically drop body fat in a short period of time, and this study led to DNP finding its way into many diet potions and medications. The Federal Drug Administration wasn’t founded until 1906, and when DNP was being used as a diet medication, this organization didn’t have the ability to monitor what was being used and sold to the population as it does today. Keep in mind that this was a time when amphetamines were not a controlled drug and was commonly sold under the trade name Benzadrine as a decongestant.

2,4 dinitrophenol is a different animal than all the substances that have been used for weight loss over the years. Today it is used in the manufacturing of dyes and wood preservatives, and it is also used as a pesticide. Generally, most drugs that have been used for fat loss with bodybuilders have had some medical use at one time, except for DNP. It seems that someone would have to pretty ballsy to ingest a chemical that is manufactured as a pesticide or explosive, or which has been known to cook a person from the inside out. The known ability of how DNP melts fat has made many people ignore these facts.

In 1981 a physician based in Texas (Dr. Bachynsky) processed industrial DNP into tablets, which he marketed and dispensed in his private weight loss clinic under the name of ‘Mitcal’. Up until this time, 2,4 dinitrophenol had been virtually unheard of since its initial ban in 1938. Dr Bachynsky allegedly treated 14,000 weight loss patients with DNP. Patients started reporting side effects, such as shortness of breath, fever, and sweating to the FDA in 1982, and there was one patient death reported in 1984, but that death was ruled as an intentional overdose. In 1986 Dr. Bachynsky was convicted of drug law violations and was fined and prohibited from dispensing DNP to any more patients. He continued to use DNP for a number of medicinal claims, and he was later jailed in 2008 for fraud in relation to the marketing of company that was developing DNP to be used in Europe as a cancer treatment.

Steroid guru and convicted steroid dealer Dan Duchaine happened to meet Dr. Bachynsky in prison while the former physician was serving a federal prison sentence for racketeering and defrauding the IRS. Duchaine was fascinated to hear Bachynsky’s story on DNP, and when Duchaine was out of prison in the late 90s, he promoted DNP as the “king of fat-loss drugs”, and this started a brand new era for DNP. Dr. Bachynsky had a very large clientele of over 14,000 clients, but this number would be dwarfed by the following that Dan Duchaine had. His following caused the news about DNP to not only be spread nationwide, but worldwide. The UK Food Standard Agency issued a warning in 2003 stating that DNP was dangerous to be consumed.

The dangers of DNP have been widely known for years. The first death from DNP was reported in 1918. Since then, a number of short-term and long-term side effects have been discovered. Cataracts have been a side effect that has worried many users. Even though only one percent of DNP users actually experienced cataracts, there is still worry about vision problems from bodybuilders that use the drug today. There are often reports of blurred vision from people that use DNP, but this seems to go away when use is stopped. DNP does cause dramatic oxidative stress on the body, which can cause damage even though the use is short term.

I am going to try to put things into perspective the best I can here with the data I have. We see that there was one death in 1984 among 14,00 DNP users that were being monitored by a doctor, and that death was reported as self inflicted. There have been 61 documented deaths related to DNP since then, who all got their information and DNP from the internet since a physician was not monitoring them. This shows that the dangers involved with DNP are reduced when taken as it should be taken. Do I think that DNP is a safe fat-loss drug? Not at all, in fact, I think it is the most dangerous drug, behind insulin, that is used by bodybuilders. I also feel that the risk involved with DNP can be greatly reduced when the user has knowledge on how to take this substance and when there is no need to push the envelope with excessive doses. Any substance can cause problems when used in excess.

Acetaminophen has been reported to be responsible for 980 deaths a year when used in excess. DNP s a drug that has much less room for error than something like acetaminophen and it should be treated this way. Even though it has potential to be very effective in burning body fat, it also has a bigger potential for permanent side effects, including death.