CRN denounces DHEA bill

By Clarisse Douaud

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Dhea Anabolic steroid

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) has expressed concern
over a bill introduced to Congress and aimed at preventing abuse of
dehydroepiandrosterone, or DHEA.

CRN says the bill is unjustly putting this supplement ingredient under the same spotlight as performance-enhancing drugs - a particularly hot topic given the recent release of the Mitchell report on the use of such products in Major League Baseball (MLB).

While the Mitchell report looked set to clear the name of supplements as not being laced with performance-enhancing ingredients, CRN says the DHEA bill is having the opposite effect and giving an effective ingredient a negative image.

"We strongly oppose the attempt to restrict access to a legal and safe supplement product-DHEA-under the guise of protecting consumers from 'performance-enhancing drugs'," said CRN president and CEO, Steve Mister.

"There is no evidence that DHEA is being abused by minors nor is there evidence that DHEA works as a performance-enhancing product in young healthy adults."

DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) - a precursor to the hormone testosterone - occurs naturally in the blood of young people.

Levels have been shown to peak between the ages of 20 and 30 years, but decrease progressively thereafter.

Dietary supplements containing DHEA (derived from a plant in the wild yam family) have been available in the US for more than 20 years.

Bill S 2470, the so-called DHEA Abuse Reduction Act of 2007, proposes to amend the Controlled Substances Act by preventing minors access to DHEA and penalizing those who would provide DHEA to minors.

CRN insinuates the bill has been timed to be introduced in conjunction with the negative spotlight on doping in athletics that has come from the Mitchell Report.

"Tying this legislation to the Mitchell report on steroid and drug problems in Major League Baseball is a misdirected attempt to push through meritless legislation based on emotional rhetoric," said Mister.

"This bill would in no way address the problem of illegal anabolic steroid use." CRN cites that DHEA is not absorbed in excess by the body, for one, and also that the ingredient has many more uses than for athletic purposes.

For instance, the supplement has been linked to supporting immune function, maintaining cognitive function and elevating mood, as well as improving sleep patterns, maintaining strong bones and normalizing glucose metabolism.

"Hundreds of thousands of older adults safely and responsibly use DHEA due to their bodies' inability to effectively produce healthy hormone levels on their own," said Mister.

Released last week, the Mitchell report delved into MLB's steroid history for a long-term solution and proved controversial for professional baseball because it has involved pinpointing many names and teams.

Among many recommendations, the report puts forth the notion that MLB should move on from its doping scandals, not waste time trying to laying blame on particular players, and instead focus on making sure this does not happen in the future.

However, for this, the report indicates more funding needs to go towards prevention and education.

This positive approach could put dietary supplements in a more positive light.

In the meantime, for manufacturers, the report could also represent an advancement in terms of industry credibility.

Culminating in a 400-page document, the investigation was headed by former Democratic senator George Mitchell.

As for the DHEA bill, it is early days yet, and the majority of bills never make it out of committee.

"We urge Congress not to restrict access to DHEA, but rather to focus its resources on enforcing the current laws around illegal steroid use more strictly and educating the public about the dangers of illegal steroids," said Mister.

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