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As many people embark on a new-year fitness boost, athletes at all levels of sport are being urged to steer clear of the potentially dangerous ingredient DMAA.
DMAA can be found in unlicensed medicines marketed as sports supplements and it has been linked with high blood pressure, tightening in the chest, strokes, heart attacks and even death.
The warning has been issued by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) as a significant number of products containing DMAA continue to be found on sale in the UK.
MHRA has launched a ‘Week of Action’ between 30th January and 5th February supported by a number of leading national organisations to alert people to the potential dangers.
The week of action aims to improve awareness and will include an animated social media campaign, health & fitness bloggers sharing their stories and a video featuring Team GB Olympic weightlifters at the National Sports Stadium in Crystal Palace.
People who either suspect a product contains DMAA or want to check whether it is present are being encouraged to check online. If you find products on the market, immediately contact MHRA via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Named on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) Prohibited List, DMAA is banned during sports competition and the safety concerns are well documented.
When MHRA find unlicensed medicinal products containing DMAA on the market, urgent action is taken to remove them from sale. Last year MHRA took urgent action to remove a number of products containing DMAA from the market.
MHRA Medicines Borderline Section Manger, Dr Chris Jones said: “As always, we will continue to take robust action when unlicensed medicinal products containing DMAA come to our attention.
“We first removed these products from sale in 2012, and will protect public health by continuing to do so.
“Although the sale of DMAA products has dropped since 2012, any companies selling this unlicensed medicine is one company too many.”
British Weight Lifting CEO, Ashley Metcalfe said: “Weightlifting is a fantastic sport, not least because of the health and wellbeing benefits associated with strength training. However, as with all sports, it is very important that lifters participate in a safe and controlled manner, and are aware of the dangers of taking anything that could be potentially harmful – as has been proven with DMAA.
“We are proud to support this campaign and hope that it encourages lifters that wish to use sports supplements to choose only those that are properly regulated, and remain well-informed about the dangers of using unlicensed medicines.”
ESSNA Chair, Dr Adam Carey said: “We fully support the MHRA’s efforts to raise awareness of the dangers of supplements which contain DMAA. MHRA has classified such products as medicinal products and they have no place in legitimate sports nutrition supplements.
“The dangers of consuming DMAA are significant and well-proven. We urge all sportspeople to avoid it at all costs – and emphasise that sportsmen and women can only do this by making sure they’re only buying their sports supplements from responsible and reputable retailers.”
UK Anti-Doping Chief Executive, Nicole Sapstead said: “Any athlete who takes supplements containing DMAA in-competition – either deliberately or inadvertently - is not only risking their career, but is also risking their health.
“If you are considering taking a supplement make sure you assess the need first by speaking to a qualified nutritionist. If you need to take a supplement, make sure you understand the risks and consequences by undertaking thorough research.”
This ‘Week of Action’ is part of the FakeMeds campaign aimed at young adults and highlights the pitfalls of buying unlicensed medicines online.
Visit the Government website for tips on buying medicines safely online and how to avoid unscrupulous sites.