Endocrine System

BFP Magazine

Endocrine and Health

What You Should Know About DHEA

By Dr. W. Gifford Jones

Monday, February 6, 2006


"Should I take DHEA to help me lose weight?" Or "Does DHEA slow down aging and increase bone strength?" These are two of the many questions I've received from readers about this hormone. So what is fact and what is fiction about dehydroepiandrosterone? (Little wonder it's known by its initials!)

DHEA is one of the hormones produced by the adrenal glands perched on top of the kidneys. The body converts DHEA into the female hormone estrogen and the male hormone testosterone and many less known ones. DHEA reaches peak production around 25 years of age and then decreases every year. By age 70 there's little or none produced.

DHEA has had a checkered past. For years it was marketed in the U.S. as a weight-loss pill. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) later ruled it could only be sold as a prescription drug. But in the 90s DHEA slipped through a bureaucratic loophole in the U.S. and was classified as an unregulated dietary supplement. And it returned to the market as an anti-aging medicine.

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