DHEA Not A Dangerous Anabolic Steroid

Contact: Julian Whitaker, MD                           FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tel.: (714) 619-1600

Email: [email protected]

Misinformation About DHEA Sparks Ill-Advised Bill

NEWPORT BEACH, CA – March 19, 2007 – Lack of knowledge is a dangerous thing, particularly in Congress. A bill was recently introduced in the U.S. Senate proposing to add dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) to the list of controlled anabolic steroids, synthetic derivatives of testosterone used by athletes to build muscle and improve performance.

There’s just one problem. DHEA does not stimulate excessive muscle growth, and there is no evidence that it is abused by athletes-it’s just not an effective performance enhancer.

The confusion likely stems from the fact that DHEA, like other steroidal hormones such as testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone, is synthesized from cholesterol in the adrenal glands-plus the fact that DHEA serves as a precursor to these and other hormones. But its links to “dangerous anabolic steroids” ends there.

“Performance benefits for athletes,” states Robert Johnson in an editorial in Clinical Chemistry, “are neither documented nor proven. DHEA is ‘guilty’ by virtue of its position in the biochemistry of gonadal hormone production.”

In reality, DHEA is an inexpensive, over-the-counter nutritional supplement with a long record of safety and utility for the prevention and treatment of age-related diseases. It has been shown in clinical studies to improve bone mass, lipid levels, insulin sensitivity, libido and sexual performance, mood, and sense of well-being in older people. Furthermore, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the blood level of DHEA is “independently and inversely related to death from any cause and death from cardiovascular disease in men over age 50.”

There is also a great deal of misunderstanding regarding the safety of DHEA. A press release from the office of Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who introduced the bill along with Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Dick Durbin (D-IL), stated “Like all steroids, DHEA has a number of potential long-term physical and psychological effects, including heart disease, cancer, stroke, liver damage, severe acne, baldness, dramatic mood swings and aggression.”

On the contrary, DHEA has been demonstrated to reduce risk of heart disease, cancer, and other serious diseases. Although some minor side effects have been reported (high doses, for example, may causes mild acne in women), serious side effects are virtually nonexistent.

Whether it stems from guilt by association, an inexcusable lack of knowledge of the medical literature, or an overreaction to steroid abuse in sports in recent years, this push to reclassify DHEA as a controlled anabolic steroid makes no sense. All this ill-advised bill would do is deny millions of older Americans access to a safe and beneficial supplement at the time they need it most.

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If you’d like more information on this topic, or to schedule an interview with Julian Whitaker, MD, please contact Lorena Barragan at (714) 619-1600 or email Lorena at [email protected].