DHEA is a hormone that initially demonstrated immune-enhancing benefits, including improving antibody responses to vaccines.
Subsequent studies yielded inconsistent results as it related to improving antibody response to vaccines administered to elderly persons (who all likely suffered immune senescence)
As it related to HPV infection, DHEA has been shown to inhibit cervical cell proliferation in a dose-dependent manner. One study found that DHEA induced cell death via apoptosis in HPV-infected cells. The authors of this 2009 study boldly concluded that "DHEA could therefore be used as an alternative in the treatment of cervical cancer."
An intriguing pilot trial published in 2003 studied the effects of intra-vaginal DHEA in women with low-grade cervical dysplasia, a precursor to cervical cancer.
In this study, 12 women with low-grade dysplasia were given 150 mg of intravaginal micronized DHEA daily. After 6 months, 10 of the 12 women (83%) had no evidence of dysplasia. The remaining 2 had normal exams showing atypical cells of undertermined significance. These results suggest that intra-vaginal DHEA may promote regression of low-grade cervical lesions.
While these studies focused on cervical cancers, they provide intriguing clues for the many of our male readers who supplement with DHEA to help maintain immune competence.
With age, DHEA levels plummet. Men who take 25 mg of DHEA a day usually restore levels of this hormone back up to youthful ranges.
Women sometimes need only 15 mg of DHEA daily to maintain youthful DHEA levels.