Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)

What is Dehydroepiandrosterone?

Dehydroepiandrosterone (“DHEA”) is a natural steroid prohormone that is produced by the adrenal gland. DHEA is a precursor of Androstenedione, which can be converted into the hormones testosterone and estrogen. Natural production of DHEA peaks in the mid-20s and gradually decreases with age.

What are the common names or slang terms for Dehydroepiandrosterone?

Dehydroepiandrosterone is commonly referred to as DHEA.

What does Dehydroepiandrosterone look like?

DHEA is available in capsules, tablets, creams and injectable form.

How is Dehydroepiandrosterone used?

DHEA can be taken orally, applied topically or injected.

What are its short and long-term effects on the body?

DHEA may increase the risk of breast cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease, diabetes, liver problems and stroke. DHEA may also stimulate tumor growth in women with breast and uterine cancers and in men with prostate cancer. People younger than 30 years of age may run the risk of suppressing the body's natural production of DHEA if they take DHEA supplements.

Psychological side effects of DHEA also include aggressiveness, irritability, anxiety and insomnia.

Because DHEA can affect testosterone and estrogen, it may also cause side-effects related to hormone activity. In women, side-effects can include changes to the menstrual cycle, increased acne, oily skin, increased facial hair, scalp hair loss, increased sweating, weight gain, and deepening of the voice. Men may develop more prominent breasts (gynecomastia), breast tenderness, increased acne, scalp hair loss, increased body and facial hair, testicular wasting, oily skin and increased aggressiveness.

What is its federal classification?

DHEA is currently classified as a Dietary Supplement by the United States Food and Drug Administration.