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Muscle Cream Caused NYC Teen's Death

( [email protected] ) Jun 09, 2007 07:16 AM EDT
A medical examiner blamed a 17-year-old track star's death on the use of too much muscle cream, the kind used to soothe aching legs after exercise.
This undated family photo provided to the Staten Island Advance and released Saturday, June 9, 2007 shows Arielle Newman. Newman, 17, a cross-country runner at Notre Dame Academy in New York's Staten Island, died on April 13, 2007, after her body absorbed high levels of methyl salicylate.

NEW YORK (AP) - A medical examiner blamed a 17-year-old track star's death on the use of too much muscle cream, the kind used to soothe aching legs after exercise.

Arielle Newman, a cross-country runner at Notre Dame Academy on Staten Island, died after her body absorbed high levels of methyl salicylate, an anti-inflammatory found in sports creams such as Bengay and Icy Hot, the New York City medical examiner said Friday.

The medical examiner's spokeswoman, Ellen Borakove, said the teen used "topical medication to excess." She said it was the first time that her office had reported a death from using a sports cream.

Newman, who garnered numerous track awards, died April 13. She had gone to a party the night before, then returned home and spent hours talking with her mother.

Methyl salicylate poisoning is unusual, and deaths from high levels of the chemical are rare.

"Chronic use is more dangerous than one-time use," Edward Arsura, chairman of medicine at Richmond University Medical Center, told the Staten Island Advance on Friday. "Exercise and heat can accentuate absorption."

Dr. Ronald Grelsamer, of Mount Sinai Medical Center, said Newman had a very abnormal amount of methyl salicylate in her body.

"She either lathered herself with it, or used way too much, or she used a normal amount and an abnormal percentage was absorbed into her body," he said.

Her mother, Alice Newman, said she still couldn't believe her daughter's death was caused by a sports cream.

"I am scrupulous about my children's health," she told the Advance. "I did not think an over-the-counter product could be unsafe."

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