What does the research have to say

DHEA consistently makes rodents such as mice and rats lose weight. In red-eyed rodents (i.e. mice and rats), DHEA causes many biochemical changes that just don't seem to happen in people, showing just how different rats and people can be.

In people, the research has been far less impressive. Several studies using over 1500 mg per day of DHEA showed either no effects or short-lived effects on body composition in humans.

One early study found 1600 mg per day of DHEA (a very high dose of DHEA) reduced body fat and increased muscle mass in men, with later studies done by the same group and others failing to find that effect. Another study conducted in 1999 confirmed that supplementation of 150 mg/day DHEA for 8 weeks, in combination with a resistance training program had no effect on testosterone levels, strength, or lean mass in younger men. This result was echoed by a different research group, that found 100 mg/ day DHEA resulted in small, non-significant increases in strength and lean mass in middle-aged, strength-training men over a 12 week period.

Some studies in people using DHEA have shown slight increases in testosterone and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) levels, but most studies -such as the one cited above - have found minimal effect in younger people. On the other hand, older people - particularly post-menopausal women - tend to show more improvement with DHEA supplementation. One recent study found that DHEA therapy enhanced the improvements seen with strength training with older adults. The researchers concluded:

"DHEA alone for 6 mo did not significantly increase strength or thigh muscle volume. However, DHEA therapy potentiated the effect of 4 mo. of weightlift-ing training on muscle strength...and on thigh muscle volume...Serum insulinlike growth factor concentration increased in response to DHEA replacement. This study provides evidence that DHEA replacement has the beneficial effect of enhancing the increases in muscle mass and strength induced by heavy resistance exercise in elderly individuals."

The research showing health improvements, such as cognitive benefits, immune enhancement, stress reduction, and anti-cancer benefits, is also compelling.

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