Off-label use of hormones as an antiaging strategy: a review

Clin Interv Aging. 2014 Jul 23;9:1175-86. doi: 10.2147/CIA.S48918. eCollection 2014.


Given demographic evolution of the population in modern societies, one of the most important health care needs is successful aging with less frailty and dependency. During the last 20 years, a multitude of anti-aging practices have appeared worldwide, aiming at retarding or even stopping and reversing the effects of aging on the human body. One of the cornerstones of anti-aging is hormone replacement. At present, women live one third of their lives in a state of sex-hormone deficiency. Men are also subject to age-related testosterone decline, but andropause remains frequently under-diagnosed and under-treated. Due to the decline of hormone production from gonads in both sexes, the importance of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in steroid hormone production increases with age. However, DHEA levels also decrease with age. Also, growth hormone age-associated decrease may be so important that insulin growth factor-1 levels found in elderly individuals are sometimes as low as those encountered in adult patients with established deficiency. Skin aging as well as decreases in lean body mass, bone mineral density, sexual desire and erectile function, intellectual activity and mood have all been related to this decrease of hormone production with age. Great disparities exist between recommendations from scientific societies and actual use of hormone supplements in aging and elderly patients. In this article, we review actual data on the effects of age related hormone decline on the aging process and age-related diseases such as sarcopenia and falls, osteoporosis, cognitive decline, mood disorders, cardiovascular health and sexual activity. We also provide information on the efficiency and safety of hormone replacement protocols in aging patients. Finally, we argue on future perspectives of such protocols as part of everyday practice.

Keywords: Anti-aging; dehydroepiandrosterone; estrogen; growth hormone; progesterone; testosterone.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging*
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / therapeutic use
  • Estrogens / therapeutic use
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy / methods*
  • Human Growth Hormone / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Off-Label Use*
  • Progesterone / therapeutic use
  • Testosterone / therapeutic use


  • Estrogens
  • Human Growth Hormone
  • Testosterone
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone
  • Progesterone