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reader comments: DHEA

27 Oct 2000
I suggest linking to http://www4.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/PubMed, the best source of truly scientific information on DHEA and other research in biology and medicine. This is an archive of government and private research articles from the major biology and medical journals around the world, as well as online and other government sources. Often the articles are cited in advance of publication. And lately, there is an explosion of legitimate research on DHEA, which is proving to have many uses. Simply enter DHEA into the search field.

These articles on preventative medicine and DHEA (and many other topics in medicine, of course) are by real scientists, Ph.D. and masters endocrinologists, physiologists, microbiologists, geneticists, zoologists, and MDs with additional training, not quack MDs writing for 'wellness' letters about prevention, a subject on which they have little useful to say. (Remember MDs have less than a year of real scientific training on average, and that very low level. Not to mention as little as 3 years of post grad work (where the 'doctor' title comes from.))

The abstracts are from primary research. Hundreds of research projects can be accessed here. including much of the recent very interesting research on DHEA. If you wish you can order full articles and data with a credit card.

Were you to actually read the primary research on DHEA, not summarizations by MDs with no applicable specialized knowledge, you might change your opinion of the supplement. Real detailed knowledge is so much more useful than uninformed skepticism.

Take a look at the opinions of doctors for a moment. One would do well here to avoid the opinions of people who have a financial interest in fighting alternative and preventative medicine, and at the same time use in their practice very dangerous drugs with commonplace side effect rates of anywhere up to 100%. These same MDs have themselves issued advice on prevention without any research to back up their prescriptions, often doing more harm, and often using normal protocols with 0% success or results lower than placebo rate once investigated. It has been estimated that as much as 50% of medical practice has no basis in scientific research. Often these procedures actually do verifiable harm, though.

Yet our US FDA seems to exist to promote their practice. That, and promote the dubious dietary advice required by the clients of their parent department, the Agriculture department, advice which helps to cause many of the problems that the prescription drug industry then makes money from. (Does this strike you as too skeptical?)

Take for instance prescribed diets, with an effectiveness of 2%. Or for example, the prescription, patented artificial steroids still being given to upper GI ulcer sufferers, which can actually cause ulcers while damaging the rest of the body, patients whose problem is nearly always bacterial infection, curable with standard antibiotics with low side effects. Take for example the expensive statins [?], the low salt diets and the other drugs being given to high blood pressure and high cholesterol patients in a situation where the usefulness of these treatments is in doubt, and where sometimes serious side effects of the drugs are admitted to be about 25% in frequency. These are patients who mostly can be (or could have been) helped with lifestyle changes and some much gentler herbal treatments in use for centuries.

When it comes to drugs, the drug companies are interested in patentable products, even refusing to manufacture proven previously accepted and patented remedies if the number of customers for them falls below the hundreds of thousands, if they have fallen out of patent and become generic. Interestingly, one runs across references now to natural hormones like DHEA that are having chemical side groups and other nonsense added to them in an attempt to come up with compounds that are patentable. Presumably, none of these products will be featured on your skeptics page, though they deserve it.

MDs are the very worst source of advice on prevention, because they resent the intrusion of governments or anyone else on their perceived domain, and because they have an undeniable financial interest in seeing people getting sick enough to need cures, the post facto product of modern medicine. Go to them if you have a heart attack, a broken leg, a need for a new genetic protocol, an antibiotic. Otherwise, question their advice very closely.

Reject the guilt-by-association tactics that lump the health supplement industry and the millennia-old herbal pharmacopoeias in with psychic surgery. Remember that the MDs are the same folks that until very recently described any symptom they didn't think they understood, e.g. most allergies, as 'psychosomatic.' And remember that the self admitted rate (far too low) of iatrogenic (doctor-caused incompetence and mistakes) disease is the third leading cause of death in the US. This was 100,000 per year in 1990, close to 200,000 per year in more recent research published by the AMA. It is probably much higher, because physicians do not blame themselves for the negative effects of standard procedure, e.g. the several percent of patients who die or have severe brain damage during surgery, surgery that often could have been mooted by better prevention protocols or earlier intervention.

If health supplements and alternative medicine, widely popular, were killing a thousand people a year, let alone 100,000 to 300,000 in the US, health supplements would not be sold in stores. It is a testament to the power of the Doctors union that they can kill so many with impunity while attempting to reduce their competition. I have witnessed this personally, as a person born into a medical family, and as research, technical and laboratory staff in hospitals, and am completely dismayed by it.

Much that alternative medicine, including DHEA use, has to offer, could save you from your doctor's dubious attentions.
Thank you for your attention, Charles Hughes USA

reply: I have followed Mr. Hughes advice and did a search on PubMed. I found articles with names like "Basal plasma dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate level: a possible predictor for response to electroconvulsive therapy in depressed psychotic inpatients" and "The Role of Atypical and Conventional PKC in Dehydroepiandrosterone-Induced Glucose Uptake and Dexamethasone-Induced Insulin Resistance." Unfortunately, I couldn't find any articles that claimed to have found good evidence that DHEA stops the aging process, reduces obesity, or works as the panacea its advocates think it is. 

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