Sidebar: DHEA - More Information

Snake oil or magic bullet? Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), a biochemical precursor to the sex hormones androgen and estrogen, has been touted in the last few years as the next cure-all for various ailments associated with aging.

Human epidemiological and pilot clinical studies suggest that elevated levels of DHEA in the blood may be beneficial in preventing heart disease, improving immune function and well-being in the elderly, and combating depression. The hormone may also be helpful in treating systemic lupus erythematosus. Numerous animal studies have shown that DHEA may prevent obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, as well as enhance the immune system and expand life span.

With passage in 1994 of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, DHEA can now be sold as an over-the-counter nutritional supplement, so long as labels don't make any unsubstantiated health claims. But that isn't stopping a proliferation of advertisements...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?