Lithium in water associated with slower rate of Alzheimer's disease deaths

December 5, 2017, IOS Press
Lithium in water associated with slower rates of Alzheimer's disease deaths. Credit: Brock University

Rates of diabetes and obesity, which are important risk factors for Alzheimer's disease, also decrease if there is a particular amount of lithium in the water, says the study, published recently in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

Postdoctoral fellow Val Fajardo and Rebecca MacPherson, Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Sciences, collected statistics on various lithium levels in drinking water in 234 counties across Texas.

Lithium is a water-soluble alkali metal found in igneous rocks and mineral springs. It is commonly used to treat bipolar and other mood disorders, but at much higher doses than what occurs naturally in drinking water.

The research team, which included Associate Professor of Health Sciences Paul LeBlanc, compared lithium levels naturally found in with Alzheimer's disease mortality rates, along with the incidence of obesity and diabetes, in the Texas counties.

"We found counties that had above the median level of lithium in tap water (40 micrograms per litre) experienced less increases in Alzheimer's disease mortality over time, whereas counties below that median level had even higher increases in Alzheimer's deaths over time," says Fajardo.

The frequency of obesity and Type 2 diabetes also went down when the drinking water contained similar lithium levels, the researchers found.

Fajardo says he and his team focused on Texas because data on lithium levels were "freely available."

Previous studies have demonstrated lithium's ability to protect against Alzheimer's disease, obesity and diabetes.

"However, we are one of the first groups to show that lithium's potential protective effect against Alzheimer's , obesity and diabetes may translate to the population setting through very low levels of lithium in tap water," says Fajardo.

The Brock research comes on the heels of an August study from the University of Copenhagen linking high lithium levels in drinking water to decreases in dementia rates.

But Fajardo warns it's too early to start advising authorities to add lithium to .

"There's so much more research we have to do before policy-makers look at the evidence and say, OK, let's start supplementing tap with just like we do in some municipalities with fluoride to prevent tooth decay," he says.

Explore further: High levels of lithium in tap water linked to lowered rates of dementia

More information: Val Andrew Fajardo et al, Examining the Relationship between Trace Lithium in Drinking Water and the Rising Rates of Age-Adjusted Alzheimer's Disease Mortality in Texas, Journal of Alzheimer's Disease (2017). DOI: 10.3233/JAD-170744

Related Stories

High levels of lithium in tap water linked to lowered rates of dementia

August 24, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers from several institutions in Denmark has found what appears to be a link between the amount of lithium naturally present in tap water and dementia in the people that drink it. In their ...

There's some evidence lithium protects from dementia, but not enough to put it in drinking water

November 21, 2017
When people think of lithium, it's usually to do with batteries, but lithium also has a long history in medicine. Lithium carbonate, or lithium salt, is mainly used to treat and prevent bipolar disorder. This is a condition ...

Lithium in drinking water reduces suicide rates – possibly also as a result of medicine residue

October 24, 2013
A study carried out back in June 2011 at the MedUni Vienna has shown that lithium contained in drinking water could reduce suicide rates. Previously, researchers had assumed that the majority of this lithium came from natural ...

Study finds no lithium prescription residues in drinking water

September 19, 2016
Studies show that lithium contained in drinking water lowers suicide rates. This still holds true when taking account of drug residues of lithium prescriptions, as has been shown by a current study for Austria within the ...

Gene breakthrough on lithium treatment for bipolar disorder

November 8, 2017
Genes linked to schizophrenia in psychiatric patients suffering from bipolar disorder are the reason why such patients don't respond to the "gold standard" treatment for bipolar - the drug lithium - according to international ...

Recommended for you

What really causes Alzheimer's and how might we fix it?

May 23, 2018
There have been a lot of theories about what causes Alzheimer's disease. Many of them have given rise to experimental treatments of one form or another. None of them have worked much better than taking anything you might ...

Study predicts most people with earliest Alzheimer's signs won't develop dementia associated with the disease

May 22, 2018
During the past decade, researchers have identified new ways to detect the earliest biological signs of Alzheimer's disease. These early signs, which are detected by biomarkers, may be present before a person starts to exhibit ...

Moderate to high intensity exercise does not slow cognitive decline in people with dementia

May 16, 2018
Moderate to high intensity exercise does not slow cognitive (mental) impairment in older people with dementia, finds a trial published by The BMJ today.

Mutation discovered to protect against Alzheimer's disease in mice

May 16, 2018
Researchers at the RIKEN Center for Brain Science have discovered a mutation that can protect against Alzheimer's disease in mice. Published in the scientific journal Nature Communications, the study found that a specific ...

Most deprived are nearly twice as likely to develop dementia

May 16, 2018
Older adults in England with fewer financial resources are more likely to develop dementia, according to new UCL research.

Scientists discover a variation of the genome predisposing to Alzheimer's disease

May 15, 2018
An article published in Nature Medicine shows that the inheritance of small changes in DNA alters the expression of the PM20D1 gene and is associated with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.