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Exp Gerontol. 2002 May;37(5):701-12.

Dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate serum levels and common age-related diseases: results from a cross-sectional Italian study of a general elderly population.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Cardioangiology, and Hepatology, University Hospital S. Orsola-Malpighi, Via Massarenti, 9, Bologna, Italy.


The association of low serum dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) levels with age, lifestyle, general health status indicators, and specific diseases was investigated in 436 men and 544 women of 65-97 yr old. In both sexes low serum DHEAS levels were associated with age, alcohol intake, number of current medications, and decreased thyroid function. Low DHEAS was also associated with low serum albumin in men and low systolic blood pressure in women. Compared to healthy men (n=106) age-adjusted serum DHEAS levels were significantly lower in men with atrial fibrillation, chronic obstructive lung disease, dementia, parkinsonism, cancer, diabetes, hypothyroidism, and in institutionalized men. Compared to healthy women (n=100) age-adjusted serum DHEAS levels were significantly lower in women with occlusive arterial disease, chronic obstructive lung disease, and osteoporosis. After controlling for differences in lifestyle and general health status parameters, low DHEAS levels remained statistically associated only with atrial fibrillation in men and osteoporosis in women, and it cannot be excluded that these association were spurious, due to multiple comparisons. These data suggest that in elderly people low serum DHEAS levels are more a non-specific indicator of aging and health status than a risk indicator of specific diseases.

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