One study found that a mood-stabilizing drug given to patients with bipolar disorder may reduce the risk of dementia.
The alleged benefits of Lithium were discovered by Cambridge University academics who analyzed nearly 30,000 mental health patients.
Only 9.7% of patients prescribed lithium developed dementia, compared with 11.2% in those not taking it.
This is even though conditions such as bipolar disorder are strongly associated with an increased risk of schizophrenia.
The charities today said it is important for researchers to urgently follow up with the findings, as there is no single drug proven to prevent dementia.
Dementia is the leading cause of death in the UK, claiming the memories of 900,000 Britons.
Nearly 5 million people in the US are also living with a disorder that has taken academics decades to get rid of.
Many other scientific papers have identified lithium as a promising substance in the search for ways to combat memory loss.
Lithium is found naturally in vegetables, grains and in very low concentrations in water supplies.
British scientists have found that patients prescribed the mood stabilizer lithium have a lower rate of dementia diagnosis than other patients despite an increased risk of developing the memory-robbing disorder higher. This could open the door for further trials to see if the metal can help reduce dementia risk.
WHAT IS DEMENTIA? The Sickness Of The Killers That The Differences Of Their Critics
Dementia is a general term used to describe a range of progressive neurological disorders (those affecting the brain) that affect memory, thinking, and behaviour.
There are many different forms of dementia, with Alzheimer’s being the most common.
Some people may have a combination of several types of dementia.
Regardless of the type of illness diagnosed, each person will experience dementia in their own unique way.
Dementia is a global concern but it is most often seen in affluent countries where people are likely to live to a very old age.
HOW MUCH PERSONS ARE AFFECTED?
The Alzheimer’s Association reports that there are now more than 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, of which more than 500,000 have Alzheimer’s.
It is estimated that the number of people living with dementia in the UK by 2025 will increase to more than 1 million.
In the US, an estimated 5.5 million people have Alzheimer’s disease. A similar percentage is expected to increase in the coming years.
As a person’s age increases, so does their risk of developing dementia.
Diagnosis rates are improving but many people with dementia are thought to remain undiagnosed.
Is it curable?
There is currently no cure for dementia.
But new drugs can slow its progression, and the earlier it is detected, the more effective the treatments are.
Source: Alzheimer’s Association
At higher levels, it is sometimes prescribed on the NHS as a treatment for a variety of mood disorders, such as mania, depression and bipolar.
Scientists examined the medical records of 29,618 people over the age of 50 who had access to mental health services in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust.
None of the participants – who were followed for up to 14 years – had mild cognitive impairment or dementia when the study began.
About 550 patients were prescribed lithium, allowing experts to compare whether the drug reduces dementia risk.
The results have been published in the journal Plos Medicine.
The study’s lead author, Dr Shanquan Chen, said the finding was surprising, as people with bipolar disorder were at greater risk of developing dementia.
“It’s too early to say for sure, but it’s possible that lithium may reduce the risk of dementia in people with bipolar disorder,” he said.
But the study was small, and larger experiments are needed to piece together any links.
Dr Sara Imarisio, from Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “New treatments for dementia are urgently needed.
‘When there is evidence that an existing, widely used, relatively safe and inexpensive drug could help, it is important for researchers to track this down as quickly as possible.’
Medics aren’t exactly sure how protective metals might be.
Some have suggested that lithium might inhibit enzymes responsible for forming toxic proteins that accumulate in the brain due to Alzheimer’s disease and cause brain cells to die.
It comes after a study of 800,000 people in Denmark in 2017 found that people who drank water with high concentrations of the metal had a 17% lower risk of developing dementia.
However, the results were not clear, with people in the moderate exposure group having a 22% higher risk of developing dementia than those in the low exposure group.
Some experts have said that when it comes to drinking water, other factors like calcium can play a role.
Lithium should only be prescribed because the dosage is unique to each patient. Drinking too much can cause life-threatening problems with organs like the kidneys.
Source: | This article originally belonged to Dailymail.co.uk