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Rev Med Brux. 2001 Sep;22(4):A381-6.

[DHEA: orthodox or alternative medicine?].

[Article in French]

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Service de Médecine Interne Générale, Hôpital Erasme, U.L.B.


The exact physiological role of DHEA remains unknown but DHEA supplementation has recently been proven beneficial in typical deficient states like adrenal insufficiency or major depressive illlnesses. The putative favorable effects of DHEA in other conditions remain controversial. However, recent studies confirmed positive effects of DHEA administration in healthy elderly people, mostly more than 70 years old women, on skin, bone density, muscle strength and several neuropsychological symptoms. Positive effects on sexual interest and satisfaction and sense of well-being are more consistent in elderly women than in men. The recommended administered dose is 25 mg to 50 mg once a day in women and 100 mg in men. Androgenic side effects (greasy skin, acne, increased growth of body hair) are frequent but reversible side effects. Dose adaptation is recommended in these conditions. It is justifiable to prescribe DHEA in patients with adrenal insufficiency. Other possible indications are depression and prolonged glucocorticoid therapy. In elderly people, DHEA administration might be considered in DHEA depleted-patients with skin dryness or atrophy, muscle weakness, low bone density or neuropsychological symptoms. The treatment should be taken under close medical supervision in order to detect a possible hormone-dependent cancer such as breast cancer in women and prostatic cancer in men. The patients should be informed on the potential risks of DHEA administration and on the lack of definitive proven beneficial effects of DHEA, waiting the results of well-conducted controlled double blind prospective studies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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