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Life Extension Magazine

LE Magazine March 1998

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Benefits Of DHEA in Postmenopausal Women

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DHEA's multi-faceted effects have long been known. Now, new and exciting indications for DHEA's effects on postmenopausal symptoms are coming to light.


The latest scientific findings from the CHUL Research Center at Laval University, in Quebec, shows that DHEA reverses serious postmenopausal symptoms in women, and may be a potent weapon against breast cancer. In a nine-month study on female rats, DHEA reversed bone loss and decreased triglycerides. Importantly, it had a non-proliferating androgenic effect [producing limited masculine characteristics] on mammary tissue, which inhibited chemically-induced breast cancer. When given in conjunction with the new anti-estrogen drug EM800, breast cancer was totally inhibited or reversed in the animals.

The center also tested DHEA in postmenopausal women. Scientists found that DHEA reverses bone loss and increases osteocalcin (an indicator of bone-building) by 115 percent over controls in women receiving it for nine months. Bone density in the hip showed the greatest increase, with good progress after six months. The DHEA used for the study was a 10 percent cream formula which the women applied to their skin. The amount was adjusted individually, with the goal of bringing serum levels of DHEA up to more youthful measurements.

In addition to its beneficial effect on bone, DHEA had a beneficial effect on the reproductive tract without causing proliferation of cells in the uterus (unlike estrogen, which could lead to cancer). A previous study by the same group found that DHEA also has better cholesterol-lowering effects than synthetic estrogen, plus the ability to lower LDL cholesterol somewhat. It also has a stabilizing effect on blood sugar and insulin.

Although DHEA can be converted to estrogens, these studies and others indicate that it is mostly converted into androgen-type [masculine] steroids, such as testosterone. Since androgens have been shown to reduce hot flashes, the scientists theorize that DHEA will help with this postmenopausal symptom as well.

On top of its physical benefits, DHEA also appears to have mental benefits. Eighty percent of the women taking part in the study reported a greater feeling of well-being. They slept better, handled stress better, had more energy and felt more relaxed. These benefits may be due in part to DHEA's anti-cortisol effect, which has been shown to enhance immunity in men.