Council For Responsible Nutrition Calls Proposed DHEA Legislation A Solution In Search Of a Problem

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 18, 2007 — In response to the press conference introduction by Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) of a bill—S 2470, the “Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) Abuse Reduction Act of 2007 (DARA 2007),”—which proposes to amend the Controlled Substances Act to prevent the access of DHEA to minors and create penalties to those who would provide DHEA to minors, the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the leading trade association representing the dietary supplement industry, issued the following statement:

Statement by Steve Mister, President and CEO:

“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.’ 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. 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. This bill would in no way address the problem of illegal anabolic steroid use. In short, this proposed legislation is a solution in search of a problem.

When the Anabolic Steroid Control Act was passed, Congress specifically and intentionally omitted DHEA from the anabolic steroid category, recognizing that not all steroids are created equal. The primary function of anabolic steroids, such as androstenedione (“andro”), which is now a controlled substance, is to produce extra testosterone in order to increase muscle size and strength and reduce post-exercise recovery time, thereby making these products ‘performance-enhancing substances.’ Unlike anabolic steroids, DHEA is naturally produced and is the most common steroid hormone in the body. The body tightly regulates the conversion of DHEA, preventing excess production of testosterone—essentially the body recognizes when it is already achieving normal hormone levels and thus ‘ignores’ the additional DHEA.

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. This supplement has promising use to help support immune function, maintain cognitive function and elevate mood, improve sleep patterns, maintain strong bones and normalize glucose metabolism for this population.

Many manufacturers, including some CRN member companies, voluntarily recommend on their labels that DHEA products not be used by those under 18. But self-regulation is quite different than legal restrictions that impose civil penalties, such as those included in this bill. Experience with other consumer products repeatedly demonstrates that when age restrictions are imposed on a product, it becomes much harder for mature, responsible, and legitimate consumers to purchase the products in a convenient manner. Restricting the access of DHEA would set an unacceptable precedent and would create the misimpression that DHEA deserves to be hidden behind the counter.

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.”


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