DHEA and Pregnenolone Safe for Prostate?

Q I read the articles on DHEA and Pregnenolone in your July Issue with great interest. I have purchased both items and am ready to try them. However, I have had benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) for several years and am concerned that either or both substances could adversely affect my condition. My age is 52. Has there been any research on this subject?

GG, Arlington,VA

A In an age- and race-matched control study, levels of DHEA and DHEAS (the sulfated metabolite of DHEA) of the sera collected and frozen in 1974 for 81 men (aged 12--81 years) with prostate cancer were examined. While their levels of DHEA and DHEAS were lower than controls by 11% and 12%, respectively, this was not thought to be significant.1 The authors concluded that it was unlikely that serum levels of DHEA or DHEAS represent an important risk factor for cancer of the prostate. At lower dose levels (10-50 mg/day), there is thought to be little conversion of DHEA or pregnenolone to testosterone, with even less in men than in women. Yet, because over 80% of clinically manifested prostate cancers respond positively to androgen (ie, testosterone) withdrawal and both DHEA and pregnenolone can increase androgens,2 it is best to use these hormones advisedly.

If you have prostate cancer, or if you have elevated levels of PSA (prostate-specific antigen), it is best to consult with a health care professional first. [Also, we recommend that you consider the evidence on Saw Palmetto extract for certain prostate troubles (see LEN #26).]

WB

Personally, I think the jury is still out on this question. There is little conversion to testosterone of physiological doses (10-50 mg) of DHEA in men, and DHEA has been shown to have protective effects on tumor growth in general. Consequently, I do not believe DHEA is contraindicated in men with BPH, nor do I think there is any solid evidence that DHEA stimulates prostate cancer. I am 53, and take both Pregnenolone and DHEA.

WD

  1. Comstock GW, Gordon GB, Hsing AW. The relationship of serum dehydroepi-androsterone and its sulfate to subsequent cancer of the prostate. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 1993;2:219-221.
  2. Geldof AA, Dijkstra I, Newling DW, Rao BR. Inhibition of 3 beta-hydroxysteroid-dehydrogenase: an approach for prostate cancer treatment? Anticancer Res. 1995;15:1349-1354.

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