Army: Workout Supplements May Have Caused Two Soldiers’ Deaths

The US Army is investigating whether the death of two soldiers was in any way caused by workout supplements. Both soldiers died after being engaged in physical activity on a Southwest Army base. Dimethylamylamine (DMAA), the active ingredient in these workout supplements, was later found in both soldiers’ toxicology reports. The Army is trying to determine whether there is a connection between health problems and these popular workout supplements.

Perhaps the most well known examples of these pre-workout “boosters” are Jack3d and OxyElite Pro, both manufactured by USPlabs. Both products contain DMAA and are advertised as being able to increase the taker’s energy and lead to better workouts. Currently both Jack3d and OxyElite Pro are classified as dietary supplements and subsequently do not need to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

A recent New York Times article quoted Kerri Toloczko, a USPlabs spokeswoman, as stating that “there have been over one billion doses of DMAA-containing products taken without a single corroborated serious” health problem among those taking the workout boosters as directed. But while those responsible for manufacturing and marketing these products claim they are safe when used as directed, medical experts are claiming there might be serious health concerns when taking DMAA.

The Army is not the first organization to investigate the safety of dietary supplements containing DMAA. NSF International, a nonprofit responsible for testing supplements for the National Football League, have investigated DMMA and its effects. Edward Wyszumiala, an NSF International employee, classified DMAA as a stimulant whose affects are similar to amphetamine. Consequently, the United States Anti-Doping Agency issued a warning notice to its athletes about the dangers of DMAA and listed it as a banned substance.

However, products like Jack3d and OxyElite Pro continue to remain easily accessible and maintain their position as bestselling supplements among fitness buffs. The issue then becomes how do we protect the general consumer who is not concerned with being charged with doping accusations, but whose main concern is to improve his/her workouts.

Some look to the FDA to crack down on dietary supplements like Jack3d and OxyElite Pro, thereby increasing the difficulty of obtaining these potentially dangerous products. And while the FDA is increasing its oversight of the supplement industry, it has not indicated whether or not it is investigating the potential effects of DMAA. Therefore, the answer might remain with medical researchers and their ability to prove whether or not DMAA causes the health problems its critics are claiming. For example, a recent study of OxyElite Pro revealed that the supplement can create problems in its users similar to those foreshadowing serious heart problems, such as increased blood pressure and cold sweats. Yet this study has not been effective in stemming the popularity of Jack3d and OxyElite Pro.

Fortunately the Army has control over what is sold on its bases and was therefore able to exert some control over the sale of products containing DMAA. Pending the result of its investigation, the Army has removed Jack3d and OxyElite Pro from stores on all its military bases. And whatever the outcome of the Army’s safety review, it will help consumers and medical experts’ understanding of the potential dangers that come with taking DMAA.

Lattman, Peter & Singer, Natasha. “Army Studies Workout Supplements After Deaths.” The New York Times. February 2, 2012.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois pharmaceutical defect lawsuits for more than 35 years in and around Chicago, Cook County, and surrounding areas, including Countryside, Elk Grove Village, Naperville, Antioch, Morton Grove, and Skokie.

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