October 26, 2017 – Lithium in Water?


Anchor lead: Should we add lithium to drinking water to reduce the incidence of dementia? Elizabeth Tracey reports

The drug lithium is used to treat some mental illnesses. Now a recent study reports that it may reduce the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. Constantine Lyketsos, an Alzheimer’s expert at Johns Hopkins, says it does impact on two important substances known to be involved in the disease, amyloid and tau.

Lyketsos: For a while now people have been reporting out of laboratories that lithium impacts the development of amyloid and even phosphorylation of tau.  :09

The study looked at lithium in drinking water.

Lyketsos: Very creative Finnish investigators realized that if you measured lithium in drinking water in Finland at least there’s a range in the amount of lithium that naturally exists in the drinking water. In situations where drinking water had more lithium there seemed to be less dementia.  :18

Lyketsos says he’s not ready to advocate for adding lithium to drinking water but would follow up this study with one looking at blood levels of lithium and Alzheimer’s risk. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.