Study on DHEA: Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is on the rise

DHEA Studies

Advanced Drug Research & Supplementation Sciences

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Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) was one of the first original "prohormones" released for over- the-counter sates While this adrenal steroid has since been supplanted for bodybuilding purposes by other isolated adrenal steroids, such as androstenedione, because of the latter's more direct conversion to testosterone, it's nonetheless true that DHEA offers health benefits not attainable with the other prohormones offered for sale.

Nobody argues the fact that DHEA levels in the body drop with age, especially after age forty. By age 80, it declines to 100/a of youthful levels in many people. Since UI-f EA seems to have a direct relationship with other hormones in the body, such as insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) and cortisol, it's not hard to understand why DHEA may impart some anti-aging effects. Studies show that older people who retain higher OHM levels are usually healthier compared to those with low levels of DHEA. One problem with current DHEA supplements was outlined in a letter published in the November ii, in an issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. That letter discussed how the authors purchased 16 bottles of varying dosages of DHEA in local health food stores.

Of these, only seven were shown upon analysis to contain 90% to 110°/a of label claim for dosage. One product contained no DHEA at all, while another two brands contained only trace amounts. However, those latter two products didn't list a specific milligram content of DHEA, instead saying they contained "naturally occurring OHM." At the other end of the spectrum, one product contained 150% of the label claim for OHM. The letter goes on to list side effects associated with DHEA. What it doesn't mention is that the study these side effects were derived from involved only older women. In another letter this time to the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, physicians, one of whom has written a hook on OHM, warn of the possible dangers of inducing a heart rhythm disturbance through using moderate dosages of DHEA. They base this idea on the case of a 55-year-old man who noticed heart palpitations two weeks after beginning to use 50 milligrams a day of DHEA. He had also used the diet pill (now removed from the market) Redux-which has been linked to heart problems in women-for a year, although he stopped using the drug two weeks before he began taking DHEA.

This man later stopped, then began taking UREA again. Within 36 hours of taking his second trial of UREA, he again suffered cardiac rhythm disturbances. This led to the suggestion by the two reporting doctors that OHM may be linked to heart rhythm disturbances. But if UREA is associated with such heart problems, why hasn't it yet turned up in the countless people who've used it? Any reputable scientist will readily admit that one case proves nothing. it may he simply that this wan had an idiosyncratic reaction to DHEA.

In another new study, the same group of San Diego researchers whose initial study of DHEA several years ago led to UREA being Labeled an 'anti-aging' substance, examined the effects of higher doses and longer administration times of DHEA given to older people. The original study involved giving older men and women 50 milligrams a day of UREA for three months. This led to a 10°/ elevation of IGF-1 in the study subjects, in addition to self-reports about increased physical and psychological well-being, i.e., "feeling younger." The new study, reported in the journal (Erncol Endocrinology 1998;49:421-432, featured a daily dose of 100 milligrams of DHEA given for six months. The study subjects, nine men and 10 women between 50-65 years of age. were tested for levels of sex steroids (estrogen, testosterone); body composition; and muscle strength.

The subjects were also randomly divided into two groups, where one group took genuine DHEA, while the other group took a placebo or inactive substance. Neither the researchers nor the subjects knew who was taking the actual versus the fake DHEA. The groups were later switched, making this a double-blind crossover design, considered the most accurate type of scientific study. The results of the study showed that giving 100 milligrams a day of DHEA to these older people restored the level of OHM in their bodies to that comparable with young adults. Serum cortisol Levels didn't change. In the female subjects, levels of androstenedione, testosterone, and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) increased to levels higher than young adult levels. Levels of IGF-I increased in both sexes, while growth hormone-binding protein dropped only in the women.

Only the men in the study showed bodyfat losses, with accompanying strength increases in thigh and lower back strength. Neither sex showed any changes in resting metabolism, bone mineral density, insulin, glucose, or adverse blood lipid changes. In fact, no adverse effects were seen in any of the study subjects. The study conclusion noted that 100 milligrams of DHEA led to increases in testosterone in women, but not in men. Both sexes showed increases in IGF-1, but the decrease in bodyfat and increase in muscle strength thought to occur with an increase in this anabolic hormone only occurred in the male subjects.

This new study confirms that DHEA does increase IGF-1 levels in older people, many of whom are relatively deficient in this hormone. Since IGF-1 may help maintain muscle strength in older people, it's not hard to understand why an increase in IGF-i would make such people feel younger.

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