The chemical DNP used for weight loss can lead to premature death, the University of Turku informs.

A new study found that the use of DNP shortened the lifespan of zebra finches by 20 percent, even though there were no direct toxic effects.

DNP was withdrawn from the market as early as the 1930s due to sudden cases of poisoning.

DNP (2,4-dinitrophenol) is a molecule that enhances the conversion of food into energy.

Today, the substance is sold for weight management in an illegal online store, which, according to the University of Turku, has led to several deaths and sales sentences.

Interpol issued an international warning against DNP in 2015.

Despite its toxicity, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted the rights to its clinical testing.

The goal is to solve the global problem of overweight.

Zebra finches were used to study the health and aging effects of DNP. Photo: Cédric Sueur

A new study led by Antoine Stier, a researcher at the University of Turku, investigated the effects of long-term DNP exposure on aging.

Captive zebra finches were used as a model.

- The dose used in the study was illegally equivalent to the dose used for weight loss.

No short-term adverse effects were observed at this dose, and only a marginal increase in metabolic levels, says CNRS researcher François Criscuolo from the University of Strasbourg in a press release from the University of Turku.

According to Stier, the birds exposed to DNP were apparently physically healthy and did not differ from the control group, but their average lifespan was 20 percent, or about a year shorter.

- This corresponds to a shortening of life expectancy in humans of about 15 years, which should serve as a serious warning sign for both those who use DNP for weight management and pharmaceutical companies.

It is now essential to obtain more research information on the long-term effects of DNP in other animal models in order to get a broader and more realistic overall picture of its risks, Stier says in a release.