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Is DHEA Safe?

Specific DHEA Safety Issues

Warnings and precautions to be aware of concerning the safety of DHEA include the following:
  • DHEA is a hormone and, as such, may affect the delicate hormone balance in the body. It is probably not wise to use DHEA without your healthcare provider's approval and supervision.
  • DHEA may worsen or increase the risk of cancer, especially hormone-sensitive cancers (like breast cancer). If you have cancer, a history of cancer, or a high risk for cancer, do not take DHEA without checking with your healthcare provider first.
  • Because DHEA may have estrogen-like properties, there is some concern that it can worsen conditions that are sensitive to estrogen (such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids). Make sure to check with your healthcare provider before taking DHEA if you have one of these conditions, as you may need to be monitored more closely.
  • Because DHEA may have testosterone-like properties, it might worsen polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). If you have PCOS, you should avoid DHEA, unless your healthcare provider specifically recommends that you take the supplement.
  • DHEA might have a negative effect on cholesterol. It can decrease HDL cholesterol ("good cholesterol") and might cause changes that increase the risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
  • DHEA could make liver problems worse. If you have a liver disease, check with your healthcare provider before taking DHEA.
  • DHEA has been reported to cause mania in a few people with depression or bipolar disorder. Watch for any signs of mania, such as racing thoughts, careless spending, or risky sexual behavior.
  • If you have any chronic or severe health condition, it is a good idea to check with your healthcare provider before taking DHEA.
  • DHEA is a dietary supplement and is, therefore, not as closely regulated as prescription (or non-prescription) drugs. Also, it can be marketed without any proof that it is either safe or effective. Do not assume that just because it is sold in the United States that it is automatically safe or effective. Also, look for DHEA from a reputable manufacturer, since it has been reported that some DHEA supplements contain little or no DHEA at all.
  • DHEA may interact with a number of medications (see DHEA Drug Interactions).
  • It is not known if DHEA supplements are safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women (see DHEA and Pregnancy and DHEA and Breastfeeding).
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DHEA Supplement Information

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