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DHEA supplement shows no effect on Alzheimer's disease

James Michael Howard jmhoward at arkansas.net
Fri Apr 11 13:12:53 EST 2003

DHEA is known to produce "neuroprotective" effects on the brain.  In 1985, I
copyrighted the hypothesis that low DHEA may result in AD in vulnerable
people.  (My principal hypothesis is that DHEA evolved to optimize
replication and transcription of DNA, so I decided that reduced DHEA should
adversely affect neuronal tissues, tissues which I believe to be exquisitely
sensitive to levels of DHEA.)  If one assumes that declining DHEA results in
lack of support of neuron function, then "disease" processes may accrue.
(Neuronal maintenance declines to the point of neuronal dysfunction.)  If
this disease process advances to a point where normal neuron functions are
not able to repair the damage, then the stimulus of supplemental DHEA would
probably not increase repair.  The key to studying DHEA is a large study
involving a large number of people taking DHEA before the average onset of
AD pathology.  The study you cite fails in the same way gasoline fails to
help cars which have already failed.

"John H." <johnh at faraway.xxx> wrote in message
news:34Oka.125$cN3.4450 at nnrp1.ozemail.com.au...
> No point giving a supplement when the underlying neurochemistry is shot to
> hell. Worth a belt though.
> http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2003-04/aaon-dss033103.php
> Public release date: 7-Apr-2003
> [ Print This Article | Close This Window ]
> Contact: Marilee Reu
> mreu at aan.com
> 651-695-2789
> American Academy of Neurology
> DHEA supplement shows no effect on Alzheimer's disease
> ST. PAUL, MN - The supplement dehydroepiandrosterone, or DHEA, which has
> been touted by some as an anti-aging hormone and a treatment for diseases
> such as cancer, AIDS, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease, showed no effect
> Alzheimer's disease patients who took the supplement for six months,
> according to a study published in the April 8 issue of Neurology, the
> scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
> DHEA is a hormone produced naturally in the adrenal glands. The body then
> converts it into the hormones estrogen and testosterone. DHEA as a
> supplement is made from plant chemicals.
> In the first randomized, double-blind trial of DHEA for Alzheimer's
> researchers gave 58 Alzheimer's patients either 100 mg per day of DHEA or
> placebo. Before the study began and at three and six months, the patients
> were tested for cognitive functioning and rated by physicians and
> on any changes in the severity of the disease.
> DHEA did not significantly improve cognitive performance or ratings of
> disease severity. A transient benefit on cognitive performance may have
> seen on the tests at three months, but the benefit narrowly missed
> statistical significance, according to study author Owen Wolkowitz, MD, of
> the University of California at San Francisco.
> Of the 58 people who started the study, 46 completed three months of
> treatment and 33 completed six months of treatment.
> According to neurologist David Knopman, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in
> Minn., who wrote an editorial accompanying the study, the small size of
> study and the high number of people who dropped out may limit the findings
> of the study. He said that larger studies are needed to test these
> The study was limited to people who were not taking medications that
> cognitive functioning, including drugs commonly used for Alzheimer's.
> Wolkowitz said this criterion may have contributed to the high drop-out
> rate, with people choosing to take the Alzheimer's drug instead of DHEA or
> placebo. Wolkowitz said DHEA should be tested in combination with these
> drugs to see whether DHEA may enhance the results of the drugs.
> Side effects occurring more often in the patients taking DHEA included
> confusion, agitation and anxiety.
> Wolkowitz said no studies have been done on the long-term effects of
> DHEA supplements. "Because it metabolizes into testosterone and estrogen,
> has the theoretical potential to stimulate the growth of hormone-sensitive
> cancers, such as breast or prostate cancers," he said. "The actual risk of
> this is an area of much debate among researchers."
> Interest in DHEA stems from the findings that the level of DHEA in the
> peaks between ages 20 and 30 and then decreases progressively with age, as
> well as other studies showing that DHEA improves memory in mice. Studies
> the levels of DHEA in the blood of Alzheimer's patients have been
> conflicting.
> ###
> The study was funded by a grant from the National Institute on Aging and
> Neuroscience Pharma Inc., of Montreal, which also supplied the matched
> active and placebo capsules.
> The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 18,000
> neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to improving
> patient care through education and research. A neurologist is a doctor
> specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the
> brain and nervous system such as stroke, Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy,
> Parkinson's disease, autism and multiple sclerosis. For more information
> about the American Academy of Neurology, visit its web site at
> http://www.aan.com.

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