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DHEA Side Effects, Interactions and Warnings

  • According to this study, the widely perceived performance-enhancing activity of DHEA is still more myth than reality. However, because studies in female athletes are still lacking, an ergogenic activity of high-dose DHEA in this population cannot be excluded but is expected to be associated with adverse events like hirsutism, acne, and alopecia.
    - Dehydroepiandrosterone to enhance physical performance: myth and reality. -- Hahner S, Allolio B. -- Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. 2010 Mar;39(1):127-39, x.

  • No consistent relationship has been demonstrated between levels of DHEA and risk of cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, or immune function. Insufficient evidence exists to support using DHEA for acquired immune deficiency syndrome.

  • High levels of DHEA are associated with adverse effects, such as increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer at certain ages and reduced levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

  • Report of a case of mania possibly precipitated by the use of high doses of DHEA. Further research is required to assess the mood effects of DHEA, including its potential risk for patients with bipolar disorder.
    - Encephale 2002 Nov-Dec;28(6):563-6 -- A case report of mania precipitated by use of DHEA -- Vacheron-Trystram MN, Cheref S, Gauillard J, Plas J.

  • An evaluation of studies that have assessed the effect of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) supplementation on body composition and physical performance in older adults was performed. Overall, the benefit of DHEA on muscle strength and physical function in older adults remains inconclusive. Some measures of muscle strength may improve, although a consensus was not reached. DHEA does not appear to routinely benefit measures of physical function or performance. Further large clinical trials are necessary to better identify the clinical role of DHEA supplementation in this population.
    - J Am Geriatr Soc. 2011 Jun;59(6):997-1002. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2011.03410.x. Epub 2011 Jun 7. -- Effect of dehydroepiandrosterone on muscle strength and physical function in older adults: a systematic review. -- Baker WL, Karan S, Kenny AM.

  • Do not use if you are pregnant, nursing, or have prior ovarian, adrenal or thyroid tumors.
    - Murray, M. -- The Pill Book Guide to Natural Medicines: Vitamins, Minerals, Nutritional Supplements, Herbs, and Other Natural Products. -- Bantam, 2002. 305.

  • Side effects may include acne, irritability, fatigue, accelerated growth of facial hair, weight gain and headache. Side effects appear to only occur with doses over 50mg per day. Normal dosages appear to be quite safe.
    - Murray, M. -- The Pill Book Guide to Natural Medicines: Vitamins, Minerals, Nutritional Supplements, Herbs, and Other Natural Products. -- Bantam, 2002. 303.

last update: February 2014

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