Autoimmune Disease Dictionary: A - B C - D E - F G - H I - K L - M O - P R - S T - U V - W Medical Terms Reference
Lupus / SLE
There is some evidence of short-term benefit in those with systemic
lupus erythematosus but little evidence of long-term benefit or safety.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), also known as androstenolone, is an endogenous steroid hormone. It is the most abundant circulating steroid hormone in humans, in whom it is produced in the adrenal glands, the gonads, and the brain, where it functions predominantly as a metabolic intermediate in the biosynthesis of the androgen and estrogen sex steroids. However, DHEA also has a variety of potential biological effects in its own right, binding to an array of nuclear and cell surface receptors, and acting as a neurosteroid. Exogenous dehydroepiandrosterone used as a medication is often called prasterone (INN).
DHEA is legal to sell in the United States as a dietary supplement. It is currently grandfathered in as an "Old Dietary Ingredient" being on sale prior to 1994. DHEA is specifically exempted from the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 1990 and 2004. It is banned from use in athletic competition.
In Canada, DHEA is a Controlled Drug listed under Section 23 of Schedule IV of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and as such is available by prescription only.
In Australia, a prescription is required to buy DHEA, where it is also comparatively expensive compared to off-the-shelf purchases in US supplement shops. Australian customs classify DHEA as an "anabolic steroid[s] or precursor[s]" and, as such, it is only possible to carry DHEA into the country through customs if one possesses an import permit which may be obtained if one has a valid prescription for the hormone.
DHEA (Prasterone) is listed as an anabolic steroid and is thus a class C controlled drug.
DHEA is produced naturally in the human body, but the long-term effects of its use are largely unknown. In the short term, several studies have noted few adverse effects. In a study by Chang et al., DHEA was administered at a dose of 200 mg/day for 24 weeks with slight androgenic effects noted. Another study utilized a dose up to 400 mg/day for 8 weeks with few adverse events reported. A longer term study followed patients dosed with 50 mg of DHEA for 12 months with the number and severity of side effects reported to be small. Another study delivered a dose of 50 mg of DHEA for 10 months with no serious adverse events reported.
As a hormone precursor, there have been reports of side effects possibly caused by the hormone metabolites of DHEA.
It is not known whether DHEA is safe for long-term use. Some researchers believe DHEA supplements might actually raise the risk of breast cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. DHEA may stimulate tumor growth in types of cancer that are sensitive to hormones, such as some types of breast, uterine, and prostate cancer. DHEA may increase prostate swelling in men with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), an enlarged prostate gland.
DHEA is a steroid hormone. High doses may cause aggressiveness, irritability, trouble sleeping, and the growth of body or facial hair on women. It also may stop menstruation and lower the levels of HDL ("good" cholesterol), which could raise the risk of heart disease. Other reported side effects include acne, heart rhythm problems, liver problems, hair loss (from the scalp), and oily skin. It may also alter the body's regulation of blood sugar.
DHEA may promote tamoxifen resistance. Patients on hormone replacement therapy may have more estrogen-related side effects when taking DHEA. This supplement may also interfere with other medicines, and potential interactions between it and drugs and herbs are possible.
DHEA is possibly unsafe for individuals experiencing pregnancy, breast-feeding, hormone sensitive conditions, liver problems, diabetes, depression or mood disorders, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), or cholesterol problems.
The modification date for all health, and medical content on this page was last updated, and checked on April 23rd, 2017 PST U.S.A.