DHEA Plumps Aging Skin

Affects hydration, epidermal thickness, pigmentation

Smiling mature woman

Smiling mature woman

One of the more controversial of our current crop of anti-aging supplements, secretions and blood levels of the adrenal steroid dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) decrease profoundly with age. A study found that DHEA improved bones and the skin status, particularly in older women, in terms of hydration, epidermal thickness, sebum production, and pigmentation.

The question surrounding DHEA is whether administration of the steroid can compensate for the decline associated with aging and is safe.

Freedom to Choose

Only about 20 years ago, DHEA was almost impossible to purchase in the US. Health food stores did not carry it to not be raided by the Food and Drug Administration or Drug Enforcement Agency. Because DHEA raises testosterone and estrogen in men and women, there have been questions whether it should be a drug or dietary supplement and if use fueled certain hormonally mediated cancers.

Read: Best Anti-Aging Supplement

At the same time, its anti-aging effects in both experimental and clinical studies were promising, and healthy-living fans bought it imported from other countries. With the passage of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 its use was sorted out and it became regulated under federal law to be freely sold nationwide.

Anti-aging scientists continue to back its use. Writing in Drugs, a team from Cambridge University observes, “DHEA modulates cardiovascular signalling pathways and exerts an anti-inflammatory, vasorelaxant and anti-remodelling effect. Its low levels correlate with increased cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality. DHEA/DHEAS [a sulfate metabolite found in the blood] appear protective in asthma and allergy. In women, DHEA improves sexual satisfaction, fertility and age-related vaginal atrophy…. a growing body of evidence supports the notion that DHEA is not just an overrated dietary supplement but a useful drug for some, but not all, human diseases.”

Read: Elastic Brain

In a study from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, some 280 healthy individuals (women and men 60–79 years old) were given DHEA, 50 mg, or placebo, orally, daily for a year in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study.

No potentially harmful accumulation of DHEA and active steroids was recorded. Besides the reestablishment of a “young” concentration of DHEA, a small increase of testosterone and estradiol was noted, particularly in women, and may be involved in the significantly demonstrated physiological-clinical manifestations reported.

Among the improvements:

- Bone turnover improved selectively in women older than 70 years old, as assessed by the dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) technique and the decrease of osteoclastic activity.

- A significant increase in most libido parameters was also found in these older women.

- Improvement of the skin status was observed, particularly in women, in terms of hydration, epidermal thickness, sebum production, and pigmentation.

Read: Herbal Hormone Replacement

The article concluded “A number of biological indices confirmed the lack of harmful consequences of this 50 mg/day DHEA administration over one year, also indicating that this kind of replacement therapy normalized some effects of aging, but does not create ‘supermen/women’ (doping).”

See Part Two DHEA and Teleomere Health

Referencesi Rutkowski K, Sowa P, Rutkowska-Talipska J, Kuryliszyn-Moskal A, Rutkowski R. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA): hypes and hopes.Drugs. 2014 Jul;74(11):1195-207. doi: 10.1007/s40265-014-0259-8.
ii Baulieu EE, Thomas G, Legrain S, Lahlou N, Roger M, Debuire B, Faucounau V, Girard L, Hervy MP, Latour F, Leaud MC, Mokrane A, Pitti-Ferrandi H, Trivalle C, de Lacharrière O, Nouveau S, Rakoto-Arison B, Souberbielle JC, Raison J, Le Bouc Y, Raynaud A, Girerd X, Forette F. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), DHEA sulfate, and aging: contribution of the DHEAge Study to a sociobiomedical issue.Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 Apr 11;97(8):4279-84.
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