Lately there has been a lot of talk of DHEA. DHEA (dehydroepiandroterone) is a substance made by the adrenal glands.
As we age, our bodies make less DHEA. When DHEA was distributed to rodents there were some positive effects such as prevention and delay of tumors, obesity and diabetes.
DHEA levels in the body begin to decrease after age 30, and are reported to be low in some people with anorexia, end-stage kidney disease, type 2 diabetes (non-insulin dependent diabetes), AIDS, adrenal insufficiency, and in the critically ill. DHEA levels may also be depleted by a number of drugs, including insulin, corticosteroids, opiates, and danazol.
While this all sounds good on the surface, there are also possible negative side effects when taking DHEA. Theoretically, DHEA may increase include liver damage, facial hair on women, increased risk of prostate cancer in men and increased breast and uterine cancer in women.
Currently, due to the potential risks, the National Institute on Aging does not recommend using DHEA due to the lack of evidence of strong and consistent health benefits at this time. But the studies do show promise.