Whether you’re a bodybuilder trying to lose that last percentage of body fat or an average person looking to lose a few extra pounds, weight loss supplements can offer a quick fix. But a number of popular fat-burning weight loss supplements may contain the chemical known as Beta-methylphenylethylamine (BMPEA), a stimulant recently criticized for its “amphetamine-like” qualities. A recently published study led by Dr. Pieter Cohen of Harvard Medical School found BMPEA in eleven supplements on the shelves at various vitamin or supplement stores.
BMPEA is labeled as a plant extract, but it has been shown to increase blood pressure in cats and dogs, and its effects on humans may eventually lead to heart attacks, strokes or sudden death. According to the New York Times, the FDA has known about for BMPEA at least a year, but hasn’t taken action to remove the chemical from dietary supplements.
Within days of the publication of Dr. Cohen’s study, national retailer the Vitamin Shoppe pulled suspected BMPEA-containing products from its shelves. Other retailers continue to sell the supplements, and in fact some reported that sales spiked in the days following the study’s publication.
The FDA has not yet deemed BMPEA harmful. However, some observers have raised concerns about conflicts of interest, noting that multiple FDA officials have close ties to the supplement industry. In Canada, health officials forced a recall of a supplement containing BMPEA and another amphetamine-like stimulant, claiming that it posed “serious health risks,” including serious cardiovascular complications at high doses. Only time will tell if the FDA will take similar action.