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Dinitrophenol (DNP)

Dinitrophenol (DNP): DNP is an industrial chemical that was discovered in the 1930s to cause rapid weight loss by uncoupling oxidative phosphorylation in cells, increasing metabolic rate. It was banned in the US in 1938 due to its severe side effects, including cataracts, skin lesions, and fatalities due to hyperthermia. DNP remains illegal and is not used in medical practice.

A petri dish containing powdered dinitrophenol (DNP). Note bright yellow color.
Era of Discovery


Mechanism of Action

Uncouples oxidative phosphorylation, increasing metabolic rate

History of Use in the United States

Used briefly in the 1930s, banned in 1938

Benefit of Weight Loss Agent or Medication

Rapid weight loss

Possible Side Effects

Cataracts, skin lesions, hyperthermia, and fatalities

Current Regulatory Status in US

Illegal for human consumption. Industrial chemical.

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