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Ageing Res Rev. 2002 Feb;1(1):29-41.

Uses of DHEA in aging and other disease states.

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  • 1Division of Endocrinology, University of British Columbia, 262-575 West 8th Avenue, Vancouver BC, Canada V5Z 1C6.


Dehydro-3-epiandrosterone is a steroid hormone synthesized in large quantities by the adrenal gland whose physiologic role remains unclear. The effects of DHEA could be estrogenic or androgenic, depending on the hormonal milieu. Low levels of DHEA are associated with aging, cardiovascular disease in men, and an increased risk of pre-menopausal breast and ovarian cancer. High levels of DHEA might increase the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer. Therapeutically DHEA might be useful for improving psychological well-being in the elderly, reducing disease activity in people with mild to moderate systemic lupus erythematosus and myotonic dystrophy, improving mood in those clinically depressed, and improving various parameters in women with adrenal insufficiency. Although many other claims have been made for DHEA in diverse conditions, such as aging, dementia, and AIDS, no well-designed clinical trials have clearly substantiated the utility and safety of long-term DHEA supplementation.

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