Life Extension Magazine®

Issue: Dec 1999

In The News December 1999

DHEA gives a mental and physical boost; cancer drug update.

Scientifically reviewed by: Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, on January 2021.


Late-breaking brief news items to life extensionists,
as well as anyone interested in living a longer healthier life.


In The News

A Mental & Physical Boost

Recently, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) has been found to have effects that had previously gone unnoticed. We knew the hormone could enable us to stave-off degenerative diseases such as atherosclerosis, osteoporosis and senility. We also knew it could help boost immunity and energy levels, as well as help prevent muscle wasting, memory loss and certain cancers. Now, there are even better news.

According to German researchers, women who have underactive adrenal glands may benefit from DHEA treatment, as it can improve psychological well-being and sexual satisfaction.

DHEA levels usually peak when a person is 20 to 30 years old; they then begin to decline gradually. However, people with underactive adrenal glands have low levels of the hormone, even in their youth.

The research team led by Dr. Wiebke Arlt, of the Medical University Hospital in Wuerzburg, Germany, says the hormone's exact function is unclear. Several studies have suggested, however, that elderly people who take DHEA supplements experience a number of benefits, including improved well-being, bone density and muscle strength.

With prior studies under their belts, Arlt and colleagues set out to determine whether DHEA treatment would help women with underactive adrenal glands, since the condition increases the risk of depression, anxiety and sexual problems. According to the September 30th issue of The New England Journal of Medicine (1999;341:1013-1020, 1073-1074), Arlt's team randomly assigned 24 such women to receive 50 milligrams of DHEA each day or an inactive placebo pill for four months. Based on questionnaires completed by the women, the investigators report that DHEA replacement improved a number of signs of psychological well-being, including depression, anxiety, hostility and obsessive-compulsive behavior. These improvements, however, showed up only after four months of treatment. DHEA also appeared to have a positive effect on the women's sexuality, according to the authors.

DHEA side effects that were observed in the study were minimal: several women reported greasy skin, acne and increased bodily hair. One woman experienced hair loss, but the situation ameliorated when she began taking DHEA every other day.

"We found that [DHEA]-replacement therapy resulted in a significant improvement in well-being and sexuality in women with adrenal insufficiency," Arlt and colleagues wrote.

(A more in-depth feature article on the subject matter will follow in an upcoming issue of Life Extension magazine-watch for it!).

Cancer Drug

The Life Extension Foundation has just published an extensive array of updated cancer treatment protocols based on findings from the scientific literature and the clinical experience of practicing oncologists.

One of the most exciting new therapies described in the new cancer protocols is the combined use of a COX-2-inhibiting drug along with a "statin" drug. Both of these drugs require a prescription and monitoring by a physician.

Many types of cancer cells use an enzyme called cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) to propagate. This includes cancers of the colon, pancreas, breast, prostate, bladder, lung, head and neck, to name a few. The good news is that COX-2 is also involved in the rheumatoid arthritis process, so there are already approved drugs to treat arthritis that may be legally prescribed to cancer patients. "Statin" drugs used to lower cholesterol also suppress the propagation of certain cancer cells. When used together, these two drugs may provide the necessary one-two punch needed to control or eradicate the malignancy.

In The News In order to help those with cancers to convince their doctors to prescribe these drugs, we have created a letter that can be printed out and presented to the treating physician for consideration. This letter provides a scientific basis for prescribing these drugs now!

(You can read all of the Foundation's new cancer treatment protocols in the expanded 900+ page Disease Prevention and Treatment book.)