The same treatment, however, did not offer similar benefits for older men. Instead, men in both the test and control groups experienced a 1 to 2 percent increase in spinal bone density. According to researchers, the results suggest that vitamin D and calcium supplements, which were give to both groups, could be responsible for the increase in bone density.
The results of the study are promising for older women. According to Weiss, patients who achieve similar increases of 2 to 4 percent in spinal bone density with the help of medication experience a 30 to 50 percent reduction in risk of spine fractures.
Further, researchers say that the increase in spinal bone density experienced by women in the test group who took DHEA for two years, is at least as effective as other current therapies including estrogen and bisphosphonates, a class of prescription drugs that increases bone density.
However, like other therapies, the benefits of DHEA supplements were limited to spinal bone density. Neither men nor women experienced an improvement in hip bone density. Weiss says the hip may respond more slowly to bone-enhancing therapies than the spine, thus requiring more time to see a beneficial effect. More research is needed though.
"In addition to its beneficial effects on bone, DHEA replacement may have other benefits including improvements in risk factors for diabetes and heart disease, improvements in immune function, and improvements in psychological health," Weiss said.
While the research findings are promising, Weiss says that people should consult with their doctor before taking DHEA, which is an over-the-counter dietary supplement.
"Although DHEA is generally considered safe for consumption at 50 mg per day, it increases estrogen and testosterone levels which in turn could increase cancer risk," Weiss e
|Contact: Sara Savat|
Saint Louis University