U.S. warning consumers about 'fountain of youth' hormones
April 10, 1997
Web posted at: 5:20 p.m. EST
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. government is launching a public
education campaign in an effort to warn consumers of possible
dangers associated with taking hormones that promise to slow
the aging process.
Hormones like DHEA and melatonin have become immensely
popular among baby-boomers, as nutritional supplement
manufacturers market them as "fountains of youth." Books like
"The Melatonin Miracle" and "The Superhormone Promise" have
fueled interest in the supplements.
Now the National Institute on Aging, a division of the
National Institutes of Health, says consumers should use
caution. According to the NIA, despite popular claims, none
of the hormones -- including DHEA, melatonin, human growth
hormone, testosterone, and estrogen -- has been shown to
prevent or reverse aging.
The agency says research ultimately may reveal important
health benefits from some of the supplements. But in the
meantime, scientists are concerned about the possibility of
dangerous side effects.
For example, the agency says there are indications high doses
of DHEA can cause liver damage, and may be linked to
increased risk for breast and prostate cancers.
It also says high testosterone levels in women can lead to
facial hair growth and changes in blood fats, which increase
the risk for heart disease.
DHEA and melatonin became available over the counter in the
United States in 1994 when Congress passed a law deregulating
nutritional supplements. But the NIA says people shouldn't
take DHEA until further research proves its benefits and
determines a safe dosage.
The NIA is encouraging TV stations to start airing its new
public service announcements this month. The PSAs advise
consumers to call a toll-free number -- 1-800-222-2225 -- for
a free fact sheet about hormone supplements.
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