DHEA (2006) Age-related Macular Degeneration
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DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate) is a natural steroid that is produced in the body by the adrenal glands, the brain, and the gonads. It has been found to have some benefits, but there have been some studies indicating a number of at least short term side effects to the heart, mood, natural cycles, upset hormone balance, and skin and hair problems.
In some countries it is available only by prescription, and it is banned in athletic competitions.
Nonetheless, researchers have been interested in this biochemical because people with a number of conditions, including AMD and Alzheimer's have low levels.
A study published in 2007 found low levels of DHEA inversely related to AMD presence and severity. However, a larger 2013 study contradicted this finding.
This study evaluated the relationship between incidence of wet macular degeneration (the advanced form of AMD, also known as exudative macular degeneration) as well as the levels of C-reactive protein and fats in blood plasma.
It was a cross-sectional study, meaning that it took a 'snapshot' of a number of subjects at one point in time. The study included 141 men and women controls aged about 67 to 75 years as well as 142 patients with wet macular degeneration. In both groups blood samples were taken and the levels of DHEA, CRP, total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol were measured. In addition, body mass index was measured.
The levels of DHEA were not significantly different between the control group and the patient group. The other measures did show differences.
Researchers measured DHEA levels in 67 men and women with wet macular degeneration compared to 75 men and women with dry AMD and 64 people who had not been diagnosed with the condition. The control group was age matched.
They found that the lower the levels of DHEA the greater the severity of the macular degeneration in both men and women.
Researchers: C. Tamar, et al,
Published: Serum dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate level in age-related macular degeneration, American Journal of Ophthalmology, February, 2007