by: Dani Veracity
In a study exploring DHEA-replacement therapy as a weight loss technique, researchers gave test animals large doses of both DHEA and the drug fenfluramine. According to Dr. Ray Sahelian’s DHEA: A Practical Guide, ”Even a hot fudge sundae with fresh bananas and dark chocolate syrup couldn’t get [the test animals] interested.” If you’re like most sweet-toothed adults, you probably can’t imagine not being interested in a hot fudge sundae. You’re probably thinking, “There’s something that can make me not interested in a hot fudge sundae? Give me some of that!” But if your taste buds haven’t entirely taken over your mind, you might also be asking whether animals would normally be interested in a hot fudge sundae. Unlike the researchers, you might conclude that the animals’ lack of interest in ice cream doesn’t necessarily prove there are weight-loss properties in DHEA and fenfluramine.
If you have come to the conclusion above, you have also inadvertently realized the problem that is inherent in most DHEA-replacement therapy research. Scientists performed most of this research on animals, and what works for animals may not work for people. This leads to an obvious discrepancy between results from animal-based and human-based DHEA studies. As Dr. Sahelian writes, “[A study] done at the University of Rochester in New York evaluated the administration of 1,600 milligrams of DHEA for four weeks to eight healthy men. The researchers did not find that this steroid had much of an influence on weight loss or energy and protein metabolism. Epidemiological studies also do not support the theory, as had been proposed based on animal studies, that high serum DHEA(S) levels protected against obesity and diabetes.”
It is important to note that even human DHEA studies frequently contradict each other. In PDR for Nutritional Supplements, Sheldon Saul Hendle and David Rorvik wrote, “A report in 1988 that high-dose DHEA could favorably affect lipids and induce weight loss in young males was not confirmed in two subsequent trials. In another trial, using the same 1,600-milligrams daily dosage of DHEA used in the 1988 study but this time in women, there was, again, no weight loss.”
Contrary to the findings of the University of Rochester-based study, however, in a Temple University-based study, DHEA-supplements enabled adult men to lose 31 percent of mean body fat, as cited in Joseph B. Marion’s Anti-Aging Manual. Furthermore, Marion writes that a Temple University researcher, “…reported that DHEA can help a person lose weight by blocking an enzyme known to produce fat tissue.” Although the results of human-based and animal-based studies differ for obvious reasons, how can these equally reputable, human-based studies be so contradictory?
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