Dehydroepiandrosterone

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a hormone produced by the body's adrenal glands. The body uses DHEA to make androgens and estrogens, the male and female sex hormones. DHEA levels peak at about age 25, then go down steadily as you get older. By the time people are 70 to 80 years old, their DHEA levels are only 10% to 20% those in young adults.

Because levels of DHEA decline with age, researchers have wondered if DHEA could work as an anti-aging treatment. In older people, lower than normal levels of DHEA have been associated with osteoporosis, heart disease, memory loss, and breast cancer. But there's no proof that low levels of DHEA cause these conditions, or that taking DHEA can help prevent them. Plus DHEA supplements vary widely in quality. Many products tested don't have the amount of DHEA in them that the label says they do.

Also, DHEA supplements can have side effects. They may lower levels of HDL ("good") cholesterol in the body, and in women they may raise levels of testosterone, as well as estrogen.

The DHEA in supplements is a synthetic hormone, so you should talk to your doctor before taking it.

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Anorexia nervosaCrohn diseaseDepressionHIV and AIDSMenopauseObesityOsteoporosisSystemic lupus erythematosus Ulcerative colitis

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Review Date: 1/1/2017  

Reviewed By: Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by the A.D.A.M Editorial team.

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