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Muscle Cream Causes Death of Teen Track Star May 3, 2008

Filed under: Sports Medicine/Treatment News — gfg2sports @ 11:32 am
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I read about the death of Arielle Newman about a year ago. As an athlete the bizarre circumstance of her death has remained in my conscious. On April 3, 2007 Newman passed away from an overdose of anti-inflammatory muscle cream; this cream is known to most athletes as Icy Hot or Bengay.

At just 17 years old, Newman was an accomplished high school track star. She was a competitive athlete and she had won numerous awards.

After track meets and practices Newman would use the cream to soothe her aching legs. She would spread the cream on her legs in addition to using an adhesive pad that is also sold for relieving muscle pain. According to medical examiners and toxicology tests, it was this usage of anti-inflammatory products was the cause of her death.

Newman overdosed of the chemical known as Methyl salicylate. According to, “Methyl salicylate is a chemical relative of aspirin, is one of the main ingredients in most forms of Icy Hot and many other over-the-counter muscle creams. Methyl salicylate can be toxic if used excessively or in concentrated.”

While most people use these products safely, methyl salicylate deaths do occur. They are however extremely rare and unusual.

I’m writing this blog post to inform other athletes or people who have athletes as friends or family to spread the news that muscle soothing creams can cause great harm and even death. Please share this message so that no other athletes have to die needlessly.

I have already taken the initiative to tell my teammates about Newman’s death and the dangers of anti-inflammatory creams. Fortunately for us, we are constantly under the care of a sports trainer that is responsible for our sports related health.

Like all over-the-counter products, the directions on the back of anti-inflammatory creams should be followed. Unfortunately Newman did not have this in mind when she began to overuse the products. Hopefully other athletes can learn from her mistake.

Athletes must also try to stay informed about the products they are using. Icy Hot is often recalling products that are determined to be unsafe. Recently they have recalled some of the muscle pain relieving patches, as well as, the entire line of Icy Hot Heat Therapy products. This line includes:

  • Icy Hot Heat Therapy Air Activated Heat—Back
  • Icy Hot Heat Therapy Air Activated Heat—Arm, Neck, and Leg
  • Icy Hot Heat Therapy Air Activated Heat—Arm, Neck, and Leg, single consumer use “samples” included on a limited promotional basis in cartons of 3 oz. Aspercreme Pain Relieving Crème

*The information regarding the Icy Hot Heat Therapy recall is found on the US FDA website.