Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a hormone that is produced primarily by the adrenal glands and is found naturally in the human body. It is an important base from which other key substances, including the hormones testosterone, progesterone, and corticosterone, can be derived, either directly or indirectly. The amount of DHEA produced by the body declines with age, particularly after age forty. Research indicates that taking DHEA supplements may help to prevent cancer, arterial disease, multiple sclerosis, and alzheimer’s disease; may be beneficial in the treatment of lupus and osteoporosis; may enhance the activity of the immune system; and may help to improve memory. Caution should be exercised when taking this supplement. Some physicians believe that taking high doses of DHEA suppresses the body’s natural ability to synthesize this hormone. Further, laboratory studies have shown that high doses can lead to liver damage. If you take supplemental DHEA, it is important also to take supplements of the antioxidant vitamin C and E and the antioxidant mineral selenium to prevent oxidative damage to the liver. Possible side effects of taking DHEA include excess growth of facial hair in women. This can often be avoided by starting with a dose of 10 mg daily. 7-keto DHEA is a derivative of DHEA that is not converted into estrogen or testosterone, which is good for women concerned about breast cancer and for men concerned about prostate cancer. 7-keto DHEA is a good and safer alternative to DHEA and has the same benefits.