DHEA Safe for Liver

Q Since you recommend and sell DHEA, I would like you to comment on a statement in another newsletter that DHEA can produce liver damage. I am very interested in DHEA and have been taking your product for about a month with good results, but this recent statement about possible liver damage concerns me.

HJH, Scottsdale, AZ

A Pioneer DHEA researcher Dr. Arthur Schwartz is the principal author of the cited study, but in this study Schwartz was investigating the naturally occurring adrenal steroid DHEA as a highly effective tumor chemopreventive agent in laboratory mice and rats. DHEA was found to inhibit spontaneous breast cancer along with other chemically induced tumors, including those of the lung, colon, skin, thyroid, and liver. Schwartz did note, however, increases in liver weight and liver catalase activity associated with large pharmacologic doses of DHEA.1

Regarding other studies showing that DHEA can cause peroxisomal proliferation in rodents, MS Rao, MD, of Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, states: "The risk of DHEA causing liver cancer in humans is nil, since none of the peroxisome proliferators cause a substantial increase in the number of peroxisomes in man. It is very species-specific. Even hamsters and guinea pigs do not respond the same way that mice and rats do. Therefore, I am not concerned that DHEA will cause liver damage or tumors in humans."2


  1. Hastings LA, Pashko LL, Lewbart ML, Schwartz AG. Dehydroepiandrosterone and two structural analogs inhibit 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate stimulation of prostaglandin E2 content in mouse skin. Carcinogenesis. 1988;9:1099-1102.
  2. Sahelian R. DHEA: A Practical Guide. Be Happier Press:Marina Del Rey, CA;1996:90.

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