What are the side effects of DHEA?

Some studies of DHEA have linked the supplement to:

  • Reduced high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good," cholesterol levels
  • Increased facial hair in women
  • Acne

Long-term adverse effects of DHEA are still being researched. Because DHEA can, in theory, raise testosterone and estrogen levels, there's some concern that long-term or excessive use of DHEA supplements could increase the risk of prostate cancer, breast cancer or other hormone-sensitive cancers.

What do you tell people who want to try DHEA?

DHEA supplementation doesn't have proven benefits in older adults and might cause adverse side effects. Don't take DHEA to prevent, delay or reverse age-related changes in your body. Instead, remember that there's no substitute for a healthy lifestyle. Maintain a healthy weight, eat a balanced diet, include physical activity in your daily routine, and seek regular health screenings.

Oct. 21, 2011 See more In-depth