What is Dehydroepiandrosterone?

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What is Dehydroepiandrosterone?
Dehydroepiandrosterone or sometimes referred to as DHEA is a type of endogenous hormone. It is secreted by the adrenal glands, sexual gonads, and the brain. Our bodies are said to contain an abundant supply of circulating DHEA which is the precursor of other hormones like testosterone and estrogen.

DHEA is mainly secreted by the adrenal glands and can be found in the body in large amounts up to about the third decade. Studies have shown that by the age of 30, a person’s DHEA levels will significantly drop. But other than this normal body occurrence, DHEA levels may also be lowered by certain conditions like adrenal insufficiency, type 2 diabetes, and AIDS. DHEA levels are also said to be low on people with anorexia and those that are critically ill. Some drugs may also lower DHEA levels circulating in our systems. These drugs include opiates, corticosteroids, insulin, and danazol.

For those with very low DHEA levels, supplement drugs may be necessary to maintain good health. DHEA as a supplement may also be used in the treatment of SLE or systemic lupus erythematosus. This is an auto-immune disorder with arthritic symptoms and systemic involvement. In SLE, research has shown that the hormone is effective in fatigue reduction. It also helps those with difficulties in thinking resulting to overall improvement in quality of life for patients.

Aside from SLE, DHEA may also be used in treating patients with depression and adrenal insufficiency. This particular hormone can even be used to induce labor for women who are about to give birth. Though there are no studies on the effects of long-term use of DHEA supplements, experts caution that this drug/hormone may cause abnormally higher levels of testosterone, androgen, or estrogen in the body. If these sex hormones are present in higher than normal levels, then one may be at risk for developing prostate, ovarian, or breast cancers.

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