Study casts doubt on DHEA as a successful anti-aging treatment

May 10, 2011

Study casts doubt on DHEA as a successful anti-aging treatment
Study casts doubt on DHEA as a successful anti-aging treatment

Supplements of dehydroepiandrosterone, otherwise known as DHEA, has often been touted as an anti-aging miracle. The hormone, produced by adrenal glands, is found in higher rates among people in their 20s, and diminishes as one ages. However, new research suggests that the hype around the supplements may be unwarranted, according to Reuters.

Marketers have claimed that DHEA supplements can treat myriad ailments for older adults, including cognitive decline and a loss of libido. It was also said that the hormone could increase an overall feeling of well-being and protect against serious illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes.

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, argues otherwise.

"In the 1990s, DHEA was considered to be the elixir of youth, with preliminary studies suggesting benefits," said lead researcher Dr. Susan R. Davis in an email to the news source. She went on to say that long-term studies had debunked the majority of these claims.

Some people may have been misled by faulty, short-term studies. For instance, Davis cited in her email a research endeavor that suggested the hormone aided cognitive function in women, but only a small sample of participants took part in the study, and the entire research period was only two to four weeks.

A larger study in 2008 that lasted for a year and examined 115 women found zero evidence that DHEA held benefits for women's mental health.

In addition, Davis wrote, "Our data would suggest that there is basically no benefit for post menopausal women to use DHEA supplements to improve sexual function, well-being, cognitive performance, or for prevention of diabetes/insulin resistance or to lower cholesterol levels."

Most health professionals agree that the most surefire anti-aging methods are maintaining a healthy lifestyle through a good diet, regular exercise and incorporating preventative care to your daily regimen.

It is important to consult your physician before taking on any new treatments or if you have questions about quality of life after menopause. 


The mission of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) includes medical education, public education and patient advocacy. Plastic Surgery News Briefs are summaries of current stories found through various news and magazine outlets that relate to or mention plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures. The views expressed in these news articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASAPS, but are merely published as an educational service to our members and the general public. For additional information on these subjects and other plastic surgery related topics, please go to www.surgery.org

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