Drug Database - DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone)
Steroid Hormone / Dietary Supplement
DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is an endogenous hormone (made in the human body), and
secreted by the adrenal gland. DHEA serves as precursor to male and female sex hormones
(androgens and estrogens). DHEA levels in the body begin to decrease after age 30, and are
reported to be low in some people with anorexia, end-stage kidney disease, type 2 diabetes
(non-insulin dependent diabetes), AIDS, adrenal insufficiency, and in the critically ill.
DHEA levels may also be depleted by a number of drugs, including insulin, corticosteroids,
opiates, and danazol.
There is sufficient evidence supporting the use of DHEA in the treatment of adrenal
insufficiency, depression, induction of labor, and systemic lupus erythematosus.
No studies on the long-term effects of DHEA have been conducted. DHEA can cause higher
than normal levels of androgens and estrogens in the body, and theoretically may increase
the risk of prostate, breast, ovarian, and other hormone-sensitive cancers. Therefore, it
is not recommended for regular use without supervision by a licensed health professional.
The scientific evidence remains unclear regarding the effects of DHEA supplementation in
patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Better research is necessary before a clear
conclusion can be drawn.