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Did ADHD Drugs Cause Muscle Damage in Iowa Football Players?
Date:2/9/2011

EL CAJON, Calif., Feb. 9, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- On January 26, 2011, it was reported that 13 University of Iowa football players were affected so severely by rhabdomyolysis that they were hospitalized.  Occurrences of rhabdomyolysis—muscle breakdown—are so rare that it suggests an additional causal factor, such as a drug.

Drugs known as 'statins,' widely used to lower cholesterol, are known in rare cases to cause rhabdomyolysis.  It seems more likely, however, that amphetamines, prescribed for so-called ADHD, was the critical variable in the University of Iowa football players. ADHD is said to effect 10% of college and professional athletes and is the justification for the use of such drugs.  Narcolepsy is the only clincally proven disease for which amphetamines are prescribed.  Amphetamines have long been known to cause rhabdomyolysis – with or without exercise.  Amphetamines include Ritalin, Adderall, Concerta, and others.

In 2007, seven University of South Carolina swimmers — four men and three women had a similar episode of rhabdomyolysis, also requiring hospitalization.  Seven of 41 team members or 17%, were effected.

In March, 2009 the National Collegiate Athletic Association wrote: "In recent years, the number of student athletes testing positive for these stimulant medications has increased 3 fold, and in many cases there has been inadequate documentation submitted in support of the request for a medical exception (i.e., ADHD) to the NCAA banned drug policy."  

Obviously athletes are not the only persons on US campuses with easy access to amphetamines.  A study conducted by Professor Alan DeSantis of the University of Kentucky found 34% of undergraduates had taken ADHD drugs, illegally--without prescription.  Among juniors and seniors, use of amphetamines jumped to 50-60%, while, among juniors and seniors who were also members of fraternities and soror
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SOURCE Fred A. Baughman Jr., MD
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