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Hormones & Pharmacological Agents

DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone)

13 years, 1 month ago

9717  0
Posted on Dec 30, 2005, 8 p.m. By Bill Freeman

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: DHEA, the most abundant steroid in the human body, has been dubbed the

GENERAL DESCRIPTION:

DHEA, the most abundant steroid in the human body, has been dubbed the ‘mother of all hormones’; it has many roles within the body and plays an important role in the manufacture of the hormones testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, and corticosterone. The decline of DHEA with age parallels that of HGH, so by age 65, our bodies make only 10 to 20% of what they did at age 20.

ROLE FOR ANTI-AGING:

DHEA appears to be a potent immune system booster. Dr. Raymond Daynes, head of the division of cell biology and immunology at the University of Utah at Salt Lake City, found that it rejuvenated many measurements of immune function in mice, including the production of T-cells and other immune factors, which declines with age. In mice with viral encephalitis, administration of DHEA was shown to ease some symptoms, reduce the death rate, and postpone both the onsets of the disease and death. It is well-established that older people do not respond as well to vaccines as younger people, however when Daynes gave old mice vaccines laced with DHEA, their ability to mount defenses to diseases such as hepatitis B, influenza, diphtheria, and tetanus equalled that of a young animal. According to Daynes, the animals he placed on DHEA replacement therapy also looked "far, far healthier in their later months." DHEA may also be beneficial in autoimmune disease, where the body’s immune system attacks its own tissue as through it were a foreign invader. In a clinical trial of 57 women with the autoimmune disease system lupus erythematosus, researchers at Stanford University Hospital found that DHEA relieved symptoms, such as skin rashes, joint pain, headaches, and fatigue. Many also reported a higher tolerance for exercise and better concentration. Human studies have also found an inverse relationship between cardiovascular mortality and DHEA levels, in that higher DHEA levels were found to be associated with a lower incidence of death from cardiovascular disease. Both human and animal studies have also found that DHEA protects against arteriosclerosis, improves cardiac function, and lowers blood pressure.

Animal studies have also revealed that DHEA supplementation helps to reduce inflammatory processes in the brain, this finding implies that the hormone may have a role in protecting against neurological diseases, for example Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, whose pathology has been linked to chronic inflammation. Finally, DHEA has also been shown to prevent fat accumulation in animal models fed a high-fat diet, and may be of some benefit in preventing age-related weight increase. Results of a study published in 2002 revealed that DHEA also has potent anti-mutagenic and anti-cancer properties. In rats fed the breast carcinoma inducing carcinogen 7, 12-dimethylbenz (alpha) anthracene (DMBA), a daily dose of DHEA inhibited tumor formation and reduced the incidence of cancer.

Furthermore, in animals that did develop tumors, mean tumor volume was reduced by 92% in those given DHEA. The same study also showed that DHEA reduced UV-induced DNA damage by 90%. These findings suggest that DHEA may help to prevent against chemically and physically-induced DNA damage.

DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS:

Symptoms of DHEA deficiency may include persisting fatigue, depression, anxiety, hypersensitivity to noise, loss of libido, dry eyes, skin, and hair, loss of head hair, axial (armpit) hair, and pubic hair.

THERAPEUTIC DAILY AMOUNT:

Exact dosages have not been clearly established. Daily dosages range from 5 to 10 mg to as much as 2000 mg. Tablets or capsules usually contain 5, 10, 25, or 250 mg of the hormone.

MAXIMUM SAFE LEVEL: Not established

SIDE EFFECTS/CONTRAINDICTIONS:

Children, adolescents, pregnant and lactating women, and people suffering from benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), cancer, and endometriosis should not take DHEA. The hormone can interfere with dihydrotestosterone and estrogen levels and large doses can cause liver damage. Women taking doses in excess of 100mg per day may experience facial hair growth.

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