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Higher levels of DHEA sulfate associated with reduced carotid atherosclerosis
A study published in the August 2005 issue of the journal Atherosclerosis (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/00219150) found a negative correlation between serum DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) sulfate levels and carotid atherosclerosis in men with type 2 diabetes. DHEA sulfate is the sulfate ester of DHEA, the most abundantly produced adrenal steroid hormone, which is believed to be protective against coronary artery disease.
A team of researchers from Osaka General Hospital and Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine in Japan measured serum DHEA sulfate levels, cholesterol, and triglycerides in 206 men between the ages of 36 and 94 diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The presence and extent of atherosclerosis was evaluated by measuring carotid artery intima-media (the inner and middle layers of the artery) thickness via ultrasound, and plaque scores were determined.
Not surprisingly, DHEA sulfate levels were inversely correlated with age. The researchers found an independent negative association of DHEA sulfate with intima-media thickness and plaque score. Intima-media thickness and plaque scores were significantly greater in subjects who had low levels of DHEA sulfate defined as less than 1000 nanograms per milliliter, than in those with higher levels of the hormone.
DHEA’s protective mechanism against atherosclerosis may be due to an ability to prevent differentiation and proliferation of smooth muscle cells and fibroblasts, a lipid lowering effect, an ability to help reduce platelet aggregation and inhibit plasminogen activation, and/or enhancement of endothelial function and vascular contractility.
The authors conclude that their study “supports the notion that DHEA, which is sold in increasing amount as a food supplement, is atheroprotective in humans, and that androgen replacement therapy should be considered for men with hypogonadism.”
Youthful hormone balance is critical to maintaining health and preventing disease in men and women over the age of 40. One hormone that is deficient in almost everyone over 35 is DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), normally the most abundant steroid in the human body.
A wealth of data indicates that DHEA is a vitally important hormone. DHEA appears to protect every part of the body against the ravages of aging. In fact, published studies link low levels of DHEA to aging and diseased states. Specifically, a deficiency of DHEA has been found to correlate with:
Chronic inflammation is involved in diseases as diverse as atherosclerosis, cancer, heart valve dysfunction, diabetes, congestive heart failure, and Alzheimer's disease. In aged people with multiple degenerative diseases, C-reactive protein is often sharply elevated, indicating the presence of an underlying inflammatory disorder. Excess levels of one or more of the inflammatory cytokines [TNF-alpha, IL-6, IL-1 (b), LTB(4)] are usually found when a cytokine blood profile is conducted. DHEA has been shown to lower these pro-inflammatory cytokines and protect against their toxic effects (Kipper-Galperin et al. 1999; Haden et al. 2000).
In this article, we examine the principles of hormono-restorative therapy and two case histories in which individualized hormonorestoration helped reduce multiple cardiovascular risk factors in women. Additionally, we review CHD risk factors, symptoms, and diagnosis, along with conventional and integrative strategies for heart disease prevention and treatment. We propose that an individualized strategy of hormonorestorative therapy represents a novel yet powerful approach to reducing CHD risk in women.
Few studies have explored the relationship between androgen levels and CHD in women. The idea that DHEA protects against atherosclerosis was proposed by Kask in 1959. Some data show that serum dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S) and androgen levels decline with age, and that levels in the normal physiological range are correlated with lower risk of carotid artery atherosclerosis.
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