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DHEA replacement therapy is safe

LE KREMLIN-BICETRE, FRANCE. DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) and its sulfate ester DHEAS are the most abundant steroid hormones in the human blood plasma. DHEA and DHEAS are secreted by the adrenal cortex and levels peak between the ages of 20 to 30 years. Levels decline steadily thereafter and at 70 years of age are less than 20 per cent of the peak. Several studies have shown that supplementation with DHEA strengthens the immune system, heightens brain activity, and improves overall well-being.

French researchers now report that daily oral supplementation with 25 or 50 mg of DHEA is safe for elderly men and women. Their study involved 12 healthy men and 12 healthy women with an average age of 68 years. The participants were given either 25 mg DHEA, 50 mg DHEA or a placebo for two eight-day periods separated by a two-week wash-out period. In the men the daily administration of 25 mg or 50 mg DHEA rapidly restored DHEAS levels to those found in young men. In the women it took 50 mg to reach the levels found in young women. However, as the metabolic conversion of DHEAS back to DHEA is more effective in women it may well be that 25 mg or even less would be sufficient for women given long-term supplementation. No accumulation of either DHEA or DHEAS was observed after eight days.

Testosterone levels in the men did not increase significantly with supplementation, but did reach the levels observed in young women among the women participants. Estradiol levels increased significantly in women after supplementation which may indicate a role for DHEA in preventing bone loss in postmenopausal women. The researchers conclude that in healthy 60 to 79 year old subjects 50 mg of DHEA is a safe and potentially effective dose.
Legrain, Sylvie, et al. Dehydroepiandrosterone replacement administration: pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic studies in healthy elderly subjects. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, Vol. 85, September 2000, pp. 3208-17

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