Durk & Sandy on DHEA

I have been following Pearson and Shaw since the 80’s and can't find any papers concerning their thoughts on DHEA. Do you have any info?

JUDITH, Georgetown TX

Dear Judith,

All you need do is to use the search engine on Life Enhancement’s home page and key in “Durk Sandy DHEA.” Of the returns, for example, see the following:

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

Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw


  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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