More Studies Needed to Understand Link Between Dementia Prevention and Lithium Intake

More Studies Needed to Understand Link Between Dementia Prevention and Lithium Intake
Increasing the intake of trace amounts of lithium over a long period may prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia, recent findings suggest. But the link between lithium and dementia is nonlinear, and the wrong amount appeared to increase dementia risk, according to a study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. This could indicate that an unaccounted factor affects the risk, researchers from the University of Copenhagen and the Danish National Institute of Public Health said. The study, “Association of Lithium in Drinking Water With the Incidence of Dementia,” used records of the diagnoses of dementia and the measurements of lithium in drinking water across 275 municipalities in Denmark. The research team collected data on 73,731 patients with dementia and 733,653 healthy controls. By correlating lithium intake to diagnoses of dementia, researchers found that people who consumed small amounts of lithium — 2-5 micrograms per liter — had a higher risk of dementia than people whose drinking water had more than 10 micrograms per liter. But the link between dementia and lithium intake is nonlinear because people who ingested 5.1-10 micrograms per liter had a higher risk of dementia compared with the group that consumed 2-5 micrograms per liter. Researchers found similar patterns while examining the diagnoses of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. The link between lithium, a metal used to treat bipolar disorder, and Alzheimer’s is not new. Clinical trials have shown that lithium supplements improved cognition in patients with mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease. But the nonlinear relationship makes researchers suspect that there might be another factor at work, possibly related to dementia or the ge
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