Jack3d and OxyElite Pro have become popular with athletes because they contain dimethylamylamine (DMAA), an ingredient that is allegedly capable of increasing energy, concentration and metabolism. However, these dietary supplements have been linked to the deaths of two soldiers in the United States Army. Both soldiers, each of whom took the ambiguous dietary supplements, suffered fatal heart attacks last year during fitness exercises. As a result, regulators placed a temporary moratorium on the sales of each dietary supplement until further evidence dictated whether or not the products are safe. Subsequently, the Army is currently conducting its own investigation as to whether or not Jack3d and OxyElite Pro played a role in the deaths of the soldiers.
Jack3d and OxyELITE were each developed with the intentions of assisting in the development of muscle mass and weight gain. However, the mechanism of action in which results are achieved has become the subject of great concern. There is an ongoing debate whether DMAA, the active ingredient found in these supplements, is a constituent of geranium or synthetically produced. In a statement recently issued by Health Canada, officials acknowledged that DMAA is synthetically manufactured and not a derivative of geranium plants.
If these allegations are true, dietary supplements that contain DMAA are required to receive a drug authorization via federal law. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to act on the recent findings, they are currently in the process of determining whether future regulations are necessary. The ambiguous nature of products such as these has already been responsible for countless dietary supplement lawsuits.
Compounding the situation further are two reported deaths in the U.S. Army. Mr. Graves, the Army spokesman, said that DMAA had been identified in the toxicology reports of the two soldiers who suffered fatal heart attacks during physical exercise. In addition to the two deaths, Graves acknowledged a possible link between Products with DMAA and an influx of kidney failure, seizures, loss of consciousness and rapid heartbeat in other military personnel. As a result, the Army is currently evaluating whether the potential link warrants further action.
Contributing to the already ambiguous nature of DMAA products, are the opinions of several healthcare officials. Evidence suggests that DMAA is the product of synthetic adulterated substances that are disguising themselves as geranium extract to avoid FDA regulations. Ed Wyszumiala, the general manager of dietary supplements at NSF International, acknowledged that “if somebody shows him the evidence proving that DMAA is extracted from geranium oil, stems or leaves, he would love to see it.” According to Wyszumiala, DMAA is similar to that of an amphetamine. Dr. Cohen, an internist at the Cambridge Health Alliance, that DMAA products have “pharmacological levels of an amphetamine derivative easily available.”
Contradictory to the opinions of several medical professionals, are the those of industry representatives. Greg Miller, a spokesman for GNC, said that a variety of retailers in the United States have sold DMAA and that “there is absolutely no reason to believe there are any safety issues.” Kerri Toloczko, a USPlabs spokeswoman, said in a statement that “there have been over one billion doses of DMAA-containing products taken without a single corroborated serious” health problem among people who used the products as directed.
While the debate continues as to whether DMAA is a naturally occurring substance or a synthetic derivative, the deaths of two soldiers looms heavily. Last summer, a 22-year-old soldier collapsed at an Army base in the Southwest during a training run with his unit. The subsequent fall witnessed a 32-year-old soldier at the same base collapse after taking a physical fitness test. Toxicology reports identified traces of DMAA in each.
Due to the unfortunate deaths of these soldiers, and the ambiguous nature of DMAA, the Army is currently conducting its own investigation. Though conclusive evidence has yet to be acknowledged, results of the Army’s investigation may have overwhelming ramifications on the future sales of dietary supplements and their regulatory practices. The already questionable regulations may witness a reform that calls for stricter precautionary measures to reduce the presence of drugs in dietary supplements.
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