OBJECTIVES: To examine the effects of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) supplementation on cognitive function and quality of life in healthy older adults.
DESIGN: Double-blind, randomized, controlled clinical trial.
SETTING: Clinical research facility.
PARTICIPANTS: One hundred ten men and 115 women aged 55 to 85 (mean ± standard deviation 68 ± 8).
INTERVENTION: Fifty milligrams daily oral DHEA versus placebo for 1 year.
MEASUREMENTS: Six cognitive function tests at baseline and 12 months, the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), the Medical Outcomes Study 36-item Short Form Survey (SF-36), the Life Satisfaction Index-Z, the Satisfaction with Life Scale, the Female Sexual Function Index (in women), and the 15-item International Index of Erectile Function (in men) at baseline and 3, 6, and 12 months.
RESULTS: There were no differences between the DHEA and placebo groups in change over time in cognitive function (P>.10). Over time, BDI scores decreased for men (P=.006) and women (P=.02), and Satisfaction with Life Scale scores increased for women (P=.004), but there were no differences between the DHEA and placebo groups over time on these measures or the SF-36, Life Satisfaction Index-Z scale, or sexual function scales (P>.10).
CONCLUSION: DHEA supplementation has no benefit on cognitive performance or well-being in healthy older adults, and it should not be recommended for that purpose in the general population.