Tuesday, 05 May, 2009 Science

Lithium Found in Drinking Water Reduces Suicide Rate, Study Shows


According to Japanese scientists, low levels of lithium in drinking water might lower the risk of suicide.

The report on the study, carried out by researchers from Japan's Oita University and Hiroshima International University, was published in The British Journal of Psychiatry. The report is entitled "Lithium levels in drinking water and risk of suicide".

Scientists analyzed 18 communities in southern Japan, where the amounts of natural lithium vary from 0.7 to 59 micrograms per liter. They found that the suicide rate was considerably lower in those communities were water had larger amounts of lithium.

In the summary of the report, authors write: "These findings suggest that even very low levels of lithium in drinking water may play a role in reducing suicide risk within the general population."

It is worth mentioning that pharmaceuticals containing lithium are usually used to treat patients suffering from manic depression, which is also known as bipolar disorder. At the same time it is important to know that the levels of lithium in human body must be strictly controlled by a physician.

According to Professor Allan H. Young of the Institute of Mental Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, the recent report could lead to further studies on the anti-suicidal effects of lithium.

An abstract of the article from The British Journal of Psychiatry can be found here .

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35 votes

//1 May 06, 2009 06:22 PM | posted by: Andrew Grimes JCP, JSCCP, M. Sci. Pth.
Yes the pros and cons still need to be weighed carefully. It is important to note that this study was done on naturally existing levels of lithium in the water suppoly in the Oita area of Japan. Some bloggers on other websites have misunderstood this as being some indication lithium is being added to the water supply in Japan, an assertion which is groundless in fact.

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