~ DHEA

There are multiple anti-aging benefits this hormone might produce. The public learned about DHEA in 1996, as the benefits of DHEA were touted by the news media and in several popular books.

DHEA obtained credibility in the medical establishment when the New York Academy of Sciences published a book entitled DHEA AND AGING. This highly technical book provided scientific validation for the many life extension effects of DHEA replacement therapy.

In more than 2,000 published studies, DHEA has been shown to have a role in improving:
  • neurological function
  • immune function
  • stress disorders
  • hormonal modulation
  • numerous diseases associated with normal aging
The most remarkable finding about DHEA comes from a human study by S.S.C. Yen and associates at the University of California, San Diego, in which just 50 mg a day of DHEA over a 6-month period restored serum levels of DHEA in both men and women to youthful ranges. DHEA replacement was associated with an increase in perceived physical and psychological well-being for both men (67%) and women (84%). Increases in lean body mass and muscle strength were reported in men taking 100 mg a day, but this dose appeared to be excessive in women.

DHEA (50 or 100 mg per day) was also shown to significantly elevate insulin growth factor (IGF). Aging causes a decline in IGF levels that contributes to the loss of lean body mass, as well as to excess fat accumulation, neurological impairment and age-associated immune dysfunction.

Clinical studies provide evidence that DHEA improves memory and mood and may play a protective role against neurodegenerative diseases.

DHEA was shown to prevent pharmacologically-induced amnesia and mental impairment by benzodiazepine (Valium-like) drugs.

Epidemiologic studies show that low DHEA levels predispose people to Alzheimer's disease, and a new study provides some molecular mechanisms as to why DHEA supplementation may help to prevent Alzheimer's disease.

Extremely high doses of DHEA without antioxidant supplementation (ranging from 2,000 to 20,000 mg daily in human terms) caused liver damage in mice and rats, but DHEA also inhibited tumor proliferation of rat liver cells by blocking the cancer cell promoting enzyme glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PDH). DHEA was thus shown to inhibit cancer cell proliferation. The human equivalent dose of 600 mg a day suppressed breast tumors in mice by 70%, yet even human equivalent doses of 25-120 mg showed striking cancer prevention benefits, with no evidence of toxicity.

DHEA inhibited chemically induced cancers in the colon, lung, breast, and skin. When DHEA was applied directly to the skin, DHEA prevented chemically induced skin cancer. DHEA had this effect by inhibiting the binding of carcinogens to skin cells and by inhibiting the enzyme G6PDH.

DHEA inhibited cancer cell thymidine incorporation needed for cancer cell hyper-proliferation. DHEA disrupted the multiple oxidizing effects of chemical carcinogens, not by functioning as an antioxidant, but by modulating the effects of chemical carcinogens on cells.

DHEA declines 80-90% by age 70 or later. DHEA demonstrated a striking ability to maintain immune system synchronization. Oral supplementation with low doses of DHEA in aged animals restored immunocompetence to a reasonable level within days of administration. DHEA supplementation in aged rodents resulted in almost complete restoration of immune function. DHEA boosted beneficial interleukin-2 and suppressed damaging interleukin-6 levels.

Interleukin-6 is overproduced in the aged, which contributes to autoimmune disease, immune dysfunction, osteoporosis, depressions in healing, breast cancer and B-cell lymphoma and anemia. Chronic DHEA administration maintained immunocompetence in aged animals (by boosting interleukin-2 and other beneficial immune components and suppressing interleukin-6 and other detrimental immune components).

Suppression of interleukin-6 with 200 mg a day of DHEA was shown to be effective against systemic lupus erythematosus.

Elderly people often fail to develop sufficient antibody response to vaccination. For a vaccine to work, the immune system has to generate an immune response to the vaccine. This immune response involves the production of antibodies that recognize a specific antigen on the cell of a virus or bacterium, which directs the immune system to destroy the disease causing organism.

Animal studies indicate that, when DHEA is given with vaccines, a significant disease-preventing antibody response is generated. A study in elderly volunteers showed that 100 mg a day of DHEA markedly enhanced the antibody response to the influenza vaccine. Another human study showed that DHEA did not enhance antibody production to the Tetanus Toxoid Vaccine (but it was not detrimental to the overall immune response to Tetanus Toxoid Vaccine).

In influenza epidemics, 80-90% of mortality occurs in people over age 64. While influenza vaccines can be highly effective in young adults, 30-50% of the elderly fail to generate protective immunity. Elderly people who take an annual flu shot may want to consider taking 50 mg of DHEA daily at least two days before the vaccination to help the vaccine induce an immune response.

DHEA has been shown to protect against heart disease and atherosclerosis. A new study using coronary artery angiography showed that low DHEA levels predispose people to more significant coronary artery blockage. Another new study showed that DHEA inhibits abnormal blood platelet aggregation, a factor in the development of atherosclerosis and sudden heart attack and stroke.

In contrast, other studies on DHEA do not show the cardiovascular disease protection. One study failed to show significant benefit against cardiovascular disease, while another showed significant benefit for men, but not for women.

Life Extension's DHEA conforms to the following specifications:
  • 99.9% purity (European derived DHEA)
  • Micronized (for maximum absorption and utilization)
  • Manufactured under GMP conditions
The DHEA supplements for sale on the American market come in a wide range of purity. Lower priced Asian-produced DHEA does not yet come up to the European standards.

The cost of pharmaceutical-grade DHEA has been going down as greater production runs enable more efficient synthesis.

DHEA Blood Testing

Pregnenolone will cascade down into DHEA in some people, so those taking pregnenolone can use the DHEA blood test as an indicator of how much pregnenolone to take. Men over age 40 using DHEA should have an annual PSA blood test to rule out prostate cancer.

Those with prostate cancer should not take DHEA. The PSA test is more than 80% accurate in detecting prostate cancer and measuring the effectiveness of various prostate cancer therapies.

DHEA Protocol

For men: 25 mg three times a day For women: 15 mg three times a day Women usually need less DHEA than men.

Directions: DHEA is metabolized in the body within eight hours. Therefore, DHEA should be taken three times a day in order to restore blood levels characteristic of youth. Men should take one capsule, three times a day before each meal. Capsules can be swallowed, but better benefits might occur if the capsule is emptied and placed under the tongue for several minutes and then washed down.

Women need less DHEA. Most women will find that a maintenance dose of 15 mg of DHEA three times a day will restore DHEA to youthful levels. A DHEA blood test will reveal if DHEA levels are too high. The dose of DHEA can be reduced for women or men if the DHEA blood test reveals excessive serum levels.

A DHEA blood test should be taken 3-6 weeks after beginning DHEA therapy to help determine optimal dosing. For the DHEA serum test, blood should be drawn between the second and third daily dose of DHEA. While this test can be costly, it can save you money in the long run if it shows that you can take less DHEA to produce youthful DHEA serum levels.

Some people obtain a DHEA blood test before beginning DHEA replacement therapy, however, based upon thousands of DHEA blood tests evaluated by The Life Extension Foundation, anyone over age 40 who does not supplement DHEA is already deficient in serum DHEA. Therefore, it may be more economical to have the first DHEA blood test 3-6 weeks after initiating DHEA replacement therapy. Take antioxidant supplements (such as vitamin E) after each DHEA dosing to prevent free radical damage to the liver.

Cautions:

Men with prostate cancer or severe benign prostatic hypertrophy should not take DHEA since DHEA can be converted into testosterone in the blood. Testosterone and its metabolite, dihydrotestosterone, promote benign and malignant prostate cell proliferation. Men over age 40 who take DHEA should take 320 mg a day of saw palmetto extract or another 5-alpha reductase inhibitor to reduce the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone. Men over 40 should consider checking their PSA (prostate specific antigen) level when they have their first DHEA blood test (and every year thereafter) to make sure they do not have prostate cancer.

DO NOT TAKE DHEA IF YOU HAVE PROSTATE CANCER! DHEA can increase serum estrogen levels in women. DHEA could eliminate the need for estrogen replacement therapy by naturally elevating estrogen in the body. To help protect cells (especially breast cells) from excessive proliferation in response to estrogen, women should take 1-10 mg of Melatonin every night and consume soy products if they take DHEA. Women with an estrogen-dependent cancer may want to avoid taking DHEA. Women should consider estrogen testing when they take their DHEA blood test in order to evaluate DHEA's effect on their blood levels of estrogens.

If you have existing liver disease, it is more important that you take DHEA sublingually (under your tongue) to reduce the amount of DHEA entering your liver. Check your blood liver enzyme levels to make sure that DHEA is not making existing liver disease worse.


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