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Ageing and supplements

MIGHT so-called anti-ageing supplements, marketed as a way to replenish hormones that decline with age, help people retain their physical health?

A study randomly assigned 144 people (87 men and 57 women) over age 60 to take one of those supplements -- the steroid hormone DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) -- or a placebo daily; men also were randomly assigned to wear a skin patch of testosterone or a placebo.

After two years, blood levels of DHEA had increased; for men, testosterone levels also had risen. Bone density had improved slightly at one of the five body sites where it was measured.

However, a battery of tests showed no improvement in muscle strength, physical performance or the body's ability to lower glucose levels, and the participants reported no effect on their quality of life. No harmful side effects were reported.

Who may be affected by these findings? Older people.

Caveats: Different doses may produce different results and different side effects; some experts say high levels of testosterone or DHEA may increase the risk of breast and prostate cancer. Long-term effects of the supplements were not determined.

     
     

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