DHEA has been widely marketed as an anti-aging supplement that can supposedly reverse age-related changes in body composition and function. A two-year study by the Mayo Clinic, without industry support, debunked these ideas. The results showed that DHEA had no effect on aging markers such as muscle mass, fat mass, glucose tolerance, muscle strength, and peak endurance.
Eighty-seven men and 57 women participated in the double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. For two years, their DHEA levels were restored to levels normally seen in young people, and then various markers of aging were assessed such as body composition, athletic performance, insulin sensitivity and quality of life. Researchers found no beneficial or anti-aging effects from the supplement.
The results are significant because previous studies, which had contradictory results, were shorter and less rigorous. Anti-aging supplements are currently driving sales in the health food industry, and this research suggests that elderly people should stop taking DHEA because it hasn’t been shown to offer anti-aging effects. The researchers also suggest that the Food and Drug Administration should no longer accept DHEA as a food supplement, and instead should treat it as a drug with all accompanying regulations. This outcome, they say, would eliminate many of the false claims surrounding DHEA.