October 21, 2018
Risky DHEA: Gambling with Hormones

Risky DHEA: Gambling with Hormones

by Berkeley Wellness  

The list of known or potential risks from DHEA is even longer than the proposed benefits. Some studies have found no serious adverse effects, but they have been small and lasted only several months. There are no long-term safety data. It took five years for the adverse effects of menopausal hormone therapy to become fully apparent in the large Women’s Health Initiative.

The side effects of DHEA depend on the dose and duration of use, as well as on how much is converted to estrogen or testosterone, which can vary widely from person to person. In women DHEA may cause facial hair growth, scalp hair loss, acne, deepening of the voice, and menstrual changes. In men it may cause aggression, breast enlargement, testicle shrinkage, and urinary urgency. As with estrogen or testosterone therapy, there are concerns about increased risk of cancer. DHEA may also affect blood pressure and blood sugar, increase the risk of bleeding, worsen prostate enlargement, overstimulate the immune system, lower HDL (“good”) cholesterol, and affect thyroid, liver, and kidney function. It is particularly dangerous for children and pregnant or breastfeeding women.

DHEA supplements can interfere with many medications, and there are theoretical concerns about even more drug interactions.