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Levels of lithium in the municipal water of Oita prefecture in Japan have been linked to lower rates of suicide, according to a new study.

"Researchers examined levels of lithium in drinking water and suicide rates in the prefecture of Oita, which has a population of more than one million.

The suicide rate was significantly lower in those areas with the highest levels of the element, they wrote in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

High doses of lithium are already used to treat serious mood disorders.

But the team from the universities of Oita and Hiroshima found that even relatively low levels appeared to have a positive impact of suicide rates.

Levels ranged from 0.7 to 59 micrograms per litre. The researchers speculated that while these levels were low, there may be a cumulative protective effect on the brain from years of drinking this tap water."

Full Story: Lithium in water 'curbs suicide'

Comments

Comments

Suicide Prevention Japan

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.

While the BBC report is well written there is also a good report on this from the Telegraph published on 30th April:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/5251365/Natural-levels-of-l...

For the orginal article in the British Journal of Psychiatry see:
http://bjp.rcpsych.org/cgi/content/abstract/194/5/464

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