Science & Technology
Should lithium be added to our drinking water ?
By T.K. Randall
August 10, 2020 · 54 comments
Would you be happy with lithium being added to your water supply ? Image Credit: sxc.hu
A new study suggests that adding the psychoactive chemical to water supplies could reduce suicide rates.
Adding any sort of mind-altering substance to the nation's water supply might seem like an outrageous proposition - especially when it is one that is typically prescribed to patients with mood disorders.
According to a new study by Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS), however, there is in fact a strong link between areas with a naturally occurring excess of lithium in the water supply and a reduction in suicide rates among the local populace.
"It is promising that higher levels of trace lithium in drinking water may exert an anti-suicidal effect and have the potential to improve community mental health," said study lead author Prof Anjum Memon.
"In these unprecedented times of COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent increase in the incidence of mental health conditions, accessing ways to improve community mental health and reduce the incidence of anxiety, depression and suicide is ever more important."
The study, which draws upon data spanning three decades from multiple countries, indicates that those in lithium-rich areas ingest a low, but constant supply of it - often from birth.
Exactly how much would need to be taken to have an effect however remains unclear.
Given the potential for unwanted side effects and the lack of research on the long-term disadvantages of ingesting lithium, it would seem ill-advised to actually introduce the chemical on this basis.
Even so, it does offer an insight into how the content of our drinking water can impact our health.
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