NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – The hormone supplement DHEA may be promoted as a fountain of youth, but there is no good evidence that it boosts older women’s memory, sexual function or general well-being, a new research review concludes.
But none of those claims hold up in longer-term studies, according to the new review, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
“In the 1990s, DHEA was considered to be the elixir of youth, with preliminary studies suggesting benefits,” stated Dr. Susan R. Davis, the lead researcher on the review and director of the women’s health research program at Monash University in Victoria, Australia.
But more recently, she told Reuters Health in an email, some larger, longer-term trials have found no benefits.
A few earlier studies found, for example, that DHEA might boost older women’s memory. But they included only a small number of women, and lasted only 2 to 4 weeks.
The largest study to look at the question — a 2008 trial that followed 115 women for 1 year — found no evidence that DHEA benefitted women’s memory or other cognitive abilities.
Similarly, Davis and her colleagues found, the bulk of the evidence was negative when it came to DHEA for managing sexual dysfunction, mood, cholesterol and insulin levels.
“Our data would suggest that there is basically no benefit for postmenopausal 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,” Davis said.
On the other hand, she noted, some trials have suggested that DHEA might help slow the loss of bone density after menopause. The researchers looked at 10 studies that have looked at the effects of DHEA on bone density over 6 months to 2 years, and the majority showed some positive effects on women’s bone mass.
However, Davis said, it’s not known whether DHEA can lower older women’s risk of bone fractures.
DHEA capsules are widely sold with vitamins and supplements, costing about $6 for a month’s supply.
The most common side effects of DHEA appear to be acne and excess hair growth on the face and body, Davis said. Researchers do not yet know what negative health effects, if any, might come from long-term use.
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/gpY9kN Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, on-line March 16, 2011.
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Submited at Thursday, April 14th, 2011 at 5:00 pm on Health by robert
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