The Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 13 No. 6 • December 2010

Bone Mineral Density Increased by DHEA

DHEA Replacement Therapy in Older Women
Results in Significant Improvements in Spine BMD

A recent study1 reports a remarkable increase in spinal bone mineral density (BMD) in older women (65–75 years old) who took 50 mg/day of oral DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) supplements for 1 or 2 years, as compared to those who received placebo. DHEA was co-administered with vitamin D and calcium. (The men in the study, who also received either 50 mg DHEA/day or placebo along with vitamin D and calcium over the same period, did not have any difference in measures of BMD or bone turnover markers between the two groups; both DHEA and placebo groups had spine BMD increases of 1–2%, but that was thought to be due to the Vitamin D and calcium, which was administered to both active treatment and placebo groups.)

The effect in women receiving DHEA was, however, dramatic. Spine BMD increased by 1.7 ±0.6% (p=0.0003) during year 1 and by 3.6 ±0.7% after 2 years of supplementation in the DHEA group, whereas in the placebo group, spine BMD was unchanged during year 1 but had increased by 2.6 ± 0.9% above baseline during year 2 when they were crossed over to DHEA. This amounted to spine BMD increases of about 2% during each of the two years of DHEA supplementation for a total of nearly 4% greater spine BMD from baseline. The authors note that this 2 year change is similar to or larger than that which results from 2 years of treatment with oral estrogen, bisphosphonates (very expensive and with rare very serious side effects), or selective estrogen receptor modulators.

Moreover, the authors explain that “[s]imilar increases in spine BMD induced by pharmacotherapy are associated with a 30–50% reduction in vertebral fracture risk.”1


  1. Weiss et al. Dehydroepiandrosterone replacement therapy in older adults: 1- and 2-y effects on bone. Am J Clin Nutr 89:1459-67 (2009).

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