A Hormone Pick Me Up For Seniors?

A NEW HORMONE-REPLACE-ment therapy appears to ease the pains of aging. It involves an adrenal-gland hormone: dehydroepiandrosterone, or DHEA, which usually dwindles by age 70 to about 10% of its peak at age 25. Dr. Samuel S.C. Yen, an endocrinologist at the University of California at San Diego, gave daily pills of synthetic DHEA to 13 men and 17 women aged 40 to 70. Yen reported his research last year in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. The results: 80% of the women and two-thirds of the men in the double-blind study reported an "increase in well-being," more energy, and less muscle fatigue. Sexual desire appeared to be unaffected.

DHEA was discovered in 1960 by French scientist Etienne-Emile Baulieu, who also created RU-486, the abortion pill. Although DHEA's precise function remains uncertain, Yen's findings "make sense," says Alberto Hayek, an endocrinologist with the Whittier Institute in La Jolla, Calif. Bigger clinical trials are planned, and Yen says he might market DHEA.

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