Diet pill death

The family of a Leeds medical student who died after taking a deadly but legal slimming aid have called for tighter controls on its use. Sarah Houston took pills with chemicals which have been linked to more than 60 deaths around the world.

Death 'highlights pills danger'

The death of a Leeds University medical student who took a banned weight loss aid she found online "has highlighted the potential dangers of buying slimming pills online", a Government regulator has said.

Sarah Houston, 23, was found dead in her bedroom after taking dinitrophenol, known as DNP.

West Yorkshire coroner David Hinchliff said he would urge all relevant Government departments to take action to control DNP after he heard how Miss Houston had secretly taken the pills.

She had taken DNP, which is classed as an illegal food, along with anti-depressants.

This tragic case has highlighted the potential dangers of buying slimming pills online.

These pills can contain powerful ingredients such as DNP, which is not suitable for human consumption.

We urge people not to take any slimming medicines or products bought online without consulting with a pharmacist or doctor.

It simply is not worth the danger to overall health to buy and use these products as you just don't know what is in them. Any weight loss results they offer could come with a huge risk.

– Spokesman for the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)

Yesterday, Mr Hinchliff recorded a verdict of death by misadventure, following an inquest in Wakefield, West Yorkshire.

Miss Houston's family, who are all doctors, have said they will campaign to stop other people being damaged by DNP.

Diet pill chemical linked to Leeds student death was discontinued in America in 1938

Pills containing the chemical DNP have been linked to more than 60 deaths

The chemical DNP - which was in the diet pills taken by Sarah Houston from Leeds - work by inhibiting an enzyme in your body which transforms energy. The chemical stops this process, and excess energy is expelled as heat, resulting in burning up to 50 per cent more calories.

DNP was used extensively in diet pills from 1933 to 1938 after a report from Stanford University declared the chemical greatly increased metabolic rate.

But concerns about dangerous side-effects resulted in DNP being discontinued in the United States by the end of 1938.

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