Health & Fitness

Study finds no anti-aging benefit to DHEA, patches

The fountain of youth apparently does not yet come in a pill.

Widely used DHEA supplements and testosterone patches failed to deliver touted anti-aging benefits in one of the first rigorous studies to test such claims in older men and women. The substances did not improve strength, physical performance or other measures of health.

"I don't think there's any case for administering these" to elderly people, said Dr. K. Sreekumaran Nair of the Mayo Clinic, lead author of the study, published in today's New England Journal of Medicine.

DHEA, a steroid that is a precursor to the sex hormones testosterone and estrogen, is made by the body, but levels decline after age 25. DHEA supplements had U.S. sales of $50 million last year.

Some athletes use DHEA and testosterone to try to boost performance, often in violation of athletic association rules.