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William Regelson

factor. This factor also promotes the growth of certain tumors, and DHEA inhibits the production of this stress factor. So it has an anti-stress effect. It can also have anti-tumor activity and has value in septic shock (inadequate blood circulation due to pathogenic microorganisms in the blood). DHEA also protects mice from wasting from stress. Stress causes sarcopenin (muscle-wasting), and we can prevent that with DHEA. More work has to be done in these areas.

The person I’m working with now, who I’d like to see succeed, is Tim Cochran of the Cochran Foundation. He has a poly-pharmacy (multiple drug therapy) preparation of DHEA and other hormones, etc. with which he’s treating congestive heart failure. He also is treating Parkinson’s Disease, and this is a very promising area. The problem is it’s poly-pharmacy, so people don’t take it seriously. But I think he’s made a major breakthrough.

Then you have Henry Lardy, at the University of Wisconsin, who has come out with his own derivative of DHEA ‹ which he’s patented ‹ and is now trying to market. What Lardy has shown is that DHEA can protect mitochondria, which are important for each cell’s energy system. In the final analysis, we’re only as young as our cell’s energy system. So if you can maintain the integrity of mitochondria, you can maintain the quality of survival.

DHEA can protect the mitochondria of the energy systems, and your youthful state is dependent on how you use energy. Aging occurs when you can’t utilize energy to maintain the integrity and repair capacity in the cell. That’s basically what aging is. So I think the final common pathway that relates to aging is our ability to maintain our mitochondrial cell energetics– those are the little furnaces in the cell that provide us with the ability to burn food, and turn it into energy. There’s evidence that DHEA can protect mitochondria, and that may be the final common pathway that is vital to aging.

I’m not concerned with the length of life, so much, as I am with the quality of survival. I mean, I’m not a Kevorkian. What I mean to say is that life for life’s sake has no meaning, unless there’s quality to it. That’s the fundamental problem that we’re faced with in our society, which we’re only just beginning to do something about. At my university the administration is acting in a very stupid fashion. I want to develop a successful aging program that will appeal to the baby boomers, so that we can develop a program of bio-quantification, and rational intervention. Unfortunately it’s moving very slowly. But that university which starts programs of this kind will make it in a very big way, both economically and socially. What we want to do is prevent people being debilitated and dependent.

I’m currently 73, and I know what my future is, unless I can do something about it. But I’m concerned with the quality of my survival, not necessarily the length of my survival. I want to be productive, and physically and sexually active until the day that I die. That’s what I want. I want to go like James Whitcomb Riley’s “Wonderful One-Horse Shay”. I want to fall apart– boom– once, and not hang on to life. I don’t want to be crippled and dependent in the process if I can avoid it. And that’s what our direction should be– how do we keep animals alive and healthy? And that’s where hormone replacement comes in.

That ‘s the whole concept of my book The Super-Hormone Promise. The promise is in our replacing hormones that decline with aging, to reproduce the reproductive state, that period of our life where we’re most physically fit, and most active. I think that really is my fundamental philosophy that has to do with embracing aging. Unfortunately gerontology has gotten a bad name. It’s nursing homes, and elder-hostile, and putting a patchwork on problems that already exist.

What we have to do is prevent these problems from developing, because our society can’t afford to develop an aging society that’s debilitated. Who’s going to pay for it? We have to change our way of thinking. I mean, we have enough information that indicates there’s certain things that can be done. For example, if you could prevent osteoporosis in women, you can avoid 200,000 hip fractures a year.

We need to find a way to maintain people so that they’re functional until the very end of their lives. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re working, but that they’re taking advantage of life in the full sense of the word. I mean, look what’s happening now. People in their seventies are still youthful. It’s when you get into the upper seventies, and the eighties, that you start seeing this severe debility in our society.

The potential for DHEA is hormone replacement. We shouldn’t be saying “Oh my God, we don’t know anything about it, and it may do this.” Fortunately, right now, we have Gene Labs and van Vollenhoven’s group, which are studying it in lupus, and they’re doing a good double-blind study. They’re being secretive about their data, because they want to meet FDA requirements. But the preliminary work of van Vollenhoven’s, where he’s giving DHEA at a fairly large, pharmacologic dose– 200 milligrams a day– shows that he’s not seeing any major toxicity. And his patients are improving. It’s a safe hormone. We have to learn to use it.

I resigned from the local lupus society because we have about fifteen doctors in the Richmond community that are rheumatologists who deal with lupus, and not one of them is giving DHEA. I don’t deal with this patient population. So I sent out a memo, and I said read the literature. I sent them copies of van Vollenhoven’s paper, and I said start treating your lupus patients with DHEA. But nobody listens. They’re waiting for an FDA clearance, which is still a couple of years away. In the meantime, people are dying of lupus and coricosteroid toxicity. People should read and do something about it. That’s why we have to go beyond lupus, and see what it does for other autoimmune diseases, including maybe asthma.

DHEA, incidentally, will suppress mastis sarcomas, which are mass-cell tumors. We’ve shown this and reported it. The mass cells play a major role in autoimmune reactivity, particularly in regard to asthma, and cutaneous allergy. DHEA suppresses that mass cell. So people have to start looking. The trouble is that the action on the part of the National Institute on Aging is very slow. They’re finally beginning to put out research requests, and people are beginning to get money to do the work. But, I think, they’re ten years behind the times because they’re so slow and conservative. If a drug company could see it as a profit-making enterprise, it would have moved a long time ago. I tried to get Hoffmann-La Roch interested it twenty years ago, but they said they couldn’t patent it, so they weren’t interested.

David Jay Brown earned his master’s degree in psychobiology at NYU, and researched learning and memory while in USC’s doctoral program in Behavioral Neuroscience. He is the author of Brainchild, and co-author of two volumes of interviews with some of the most fascinating people on the planet– Mavericks of the Mind and Voices from the Edge. David is currently researching the unexplained abilities of animals with British biologist Rupert Sheldrake, and writes regularly for publications all over the globe.

REFERENCES 1. Regelson W.; Kalimi M. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) the multifunctional steroid: II. Effects on the CNS, cell proliferation, metabolic and vascular, clinical and other effects. Mechanism of action? Ann NY Acad Sci. 1994;719:564-575.

2. Loria RM, Inge TH, Cook SS, Szakal AK, Regelson W. Protection against acute lethal viral infections with the native steroid dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). J Med Virol. 1988;26:301-314.

3. van Vollenhoven RF, Morabito LM, Engleman EG, McGuire JL. Treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus with dehydroepiandrosterone: 50 patients treated up to 12 months. J Rheumatol. 1998;25:285-289.

4. Labrie F, Belanger A, Van LT, Labrie C, Simard J, Cusan L, Gomez JL, Candas B. DHEA and the intracrine formation of androgens and estrogens in peripheral target tissues: its role during aging. Steroids 1998;63:322-328.

5. Daynes RA, Araneo BA, Ershler WB, Maloney C, Li GZ, Ryu SY. Altered regulation of IL-6 production with normal aging. Possible linkage to the age-associated decline in dehydroepiandrosterone and its sulfated derivative. J Immunol. 1993;150:5219-5230.

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