Background: The medical literature reports health hazards for law enforcement personnel from repeated exposure to methamphetamine and related chemical compounds. Most effects appear transitory, but some Utah police officers with employment-related methamphetamine exposures developed chronic symptoms, some leading to disability. This report is of an uncontrolled retrospective medical chart evaluation of symptomatic officers treated with a sauna detoxification protocol designed to reduce the chronic symptoms and improve the quality of life.
Methods: Sixty-nine officers consecutively entering the Utah Meth Cops Project were assessed before and after a treatment program involving gradual exercise, comprehensive nutritional support and physical sauna therapy. Evaluations included pre- and post-treatment scores of the Research and Development Corporation (RAND) 36-item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) in comparison with RAND population norms, pre- and post-treatment symptom score intensities, neurotoxicity scores, Mini-Mental Status Examination, presenting symptom frequencies and a structured evaluation of treatment program safety.
Results: Statistically significant health improvements were seen in the SF-36 evaluations, symptom scores and neurotoxicity scores. The detoxification protocol was well tolerated, with a 92.8% completion rate.
Conclusions: This investigation strongly suggests that utilizing sauna and nutritional therapy may alleviate chronic symptoms appearing after chemical exposures associated with methamphetamine-related law enforcement activities. This report also has relevance to addressing the apparent ill effects of other complex chemical exposures. In view of the positive clinical outcomes in this group, broader investigation of this sauna-based treatment regimen appears warranted.
Conflict of interest statement
Conflict of interest: GHR is a part-time employee of ADF, as the Medical Director for the Utah Meth Cops Project. Within the last three years, GHR provided expert medical witness services for the Law Offices of Laurie L. York (Austin, TX, USA), for Dunn and Dunn (legal firm, Salt Lake City, UT, USA) and for Jacobson Law Firm (Tucson, AZ, USA). Marie Cecchini Sternquist has no financial relationship with ADF or the Utah MethCops Project. The authors declare no other actual or potential competing financial interest.
Ross GH, Sternquist MC. Methamphetamine exposure and chronic illness in police officers: significant improvement with sauna-based detoxification therapy. Toxicol Ind Health. 2012 Sep;28(8):758-68. doi: 10.1177/0748233711425070. Epub 2011 Nov 16. PMID: 22089658; PMCID: PMC3573677.