The Endocrinology of Aging

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Science  17 Oct 1997:
Vol. 278, Issue 5337, pp. 419-424
DOI: 10.1126/science.278.5337.419

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Most aging individuals die from atherosclerosis, cancer, or dementia; but in the oldest old, loss of muscle strength resulting in frailty is the limiting factor for an individual's chances of living an independent life until death. Three hormonal systems show decreasing circulating hormone concentrations during normal aging: (i) estrogen (in menopause) and testosterone (in andropause), (ii) dehydroepiandrosterone and its sulphate (in adrenopause), and (iii) the growth hormone/insulin-like growth factor I axis (in somatopause). Physical changes during aging have been considered physiologic, but there is evidence that some of these changes are related to this decline in hormonal activity. Hormone replacement strategies have been developed, but many of their aspects remain controversial, and increasing blood hormone levels in aging individuals to those found during mid-adult life has not been uniformly proven to be safe and of benefit.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed at the Department of Medicine, University Hospital Dijkzigt, 40 Dr. Molewaterplein, 3015 GD Rotterdam, Netherlands. E-mail: lamberts{at}

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