DHEA - A Miracle Drug or A Fraud? Spring Valley CA

DHEA and DHEAS are weak male directed hormones secreted by the adrenal gland. In high doses, they can be converted by the liver into male directed hormones such as testosterone. The blood levels of this hormone peaks around age 25 and gradually declines to virtually zero by ago 70.

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DHEA - A Miracle Drug or A Fraud?

Reprinted with the kind permission from Andrew Dott, MD, MPH and the Institute of Endocrinology and Reproductive Medicine



We all read about Ponce de Leon wandering through the swamps of Florida seeking the Fountain of Youth. Is DHEA this miracle cure for aging or is it a homeopathic nostrum gone amuck with the ability to go great harm?

What is DHEA?

DHEA and DHEAS are weak male directed hormones secreted by the adrenal gland. In high doses, they can be converted by the liver into male directed hormones such as testosterone. The blood levels of this hormone peaks around age 25 and gradually declines to virtually zero by ago 70. In the same sense that we talk about menopause as an estrogen deficiency state, can we talk about adrenopause as an adrenal deficiency state. Of course, no one really knows if DHEA is a biologically active compound or simply a molecule which is rapidly changed into an active substance.

There are some suggestions that low blood levels of DHEA in humans may be associated with heart disease, some forms of cancer, and impaired brain functioning in the elderly. Animal studies have suggested that administering DHEA may prevent obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and may prolong life and enhance the immune system. Whether mice are humans is another issue. Because of these findings, there is some justification for the hypothesis that DHEA supplementation may be useful to aging men and women.

Studies on human populations show that DHEA administration increases testosterone levels in women. It also increases DHEA and DHEAS levels in men and women. It does not appear to effect estrogen levels in women. The hormone may decrease HDL-Cholesterol (good cholesterol) but does not have a consistent effect on other serum fats. It does not appear to effect lean body mass, or glucose tolerance (protection from or causing diabetes). One study reported no change in libido. In truth, there have been very few studies. There is no evidence for immune enhancement in humans. There is no evidence that administering DHEA improves brain functioning in aging human. There is evidence to suggest that women with elevated estrogen, testosterone (which is formed from DHEA), and DHEAS blood levels have a greater risk for breast cancer.

In summary, there is no published evidence to suggest that DHEA administration is beneficial to human. The long term risks of its administration are unknown. In women, because DHEA is converted into male hormones, the daily dose should not exceed 50mg/ day. Such women may be at risk of increased acne, oily skin, hair growth, a deepening of the voice, and perhaps breast cancer if they use too much. Finally, DHEA should not be considered an alternative for estrogen replacement therapy.

Please also see Natural Estrogen, Selective Estrogens, and Fantasy Estrogens.

Dr. Andrew Dott teaches advances hysteroscopic and laparoscopic surgical techniques, is on the speaker's panels for several American pharmaceutical companies and is a professional lecturer. Among his lecture topics are female and male menopause, menopause, herbs and medications, endometriosis, and contraception. He is available to travel and give seminars on the topics covered in this website both nationally and internationally.

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