The Hidden Danger of Sports Cream

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The recent death of a teen athlete in New York, has parents and athletes nationwide double-checking their medicine cabinets. People are also thinking twice before applying muscle creams. We explore what’s in these over-the-counter creams that you should be aware of.

Athletes commonly use muscle creams, like Bengay, for sore muscles or joints. Tariq Smith played football at Western Kentucky University and has used muscle cream before.

“I may have used it in high school for track running," Smith recalled.

That's why Smith is in disbelief that an athlete, like himself, died from the active ingredient in muscle creams.

"When I first heard it at work, one of my co-workers found me and I thought that's probably impossible," Smith said.

Pharmacist Greg Hines is also in disbelief.

"I've never heard of anyone having salicylate poisoning or overdoes from topical applications," Hines recalled.

If your thinking about buying a sore muscle cream you should know methyl salicylate is the active ingredient in most creams and even some medicated patches. Most people don't know the salicylate agent can also be found in over the counter drugs like aspirin and the two together could create a problem.

"... If they are using something like that in a tablet form. If you are taking it internally as well as topically, you could very easily get an overdose," Hines explained.

Smith has his own alternative for sore muscles.

"Ice - that's it and I think that's the best remedy because it breaks down the sore muscle and torn - and once it starts getting back to normal it heals better," Smith said.

No matter what you're using, remember even though muscle creams are sold over the counter, it's still a drug.

To read more about methyl salicylate and what products it can be found in, click here and for methyl salicylate overdose side-effects, be sure to click here. To read more research on the toxicity of methyl salicylate,click here.