Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Mineral Metabolism / 19.12.2017 Interview with: Val Andrew Fajardo, PhD. NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow | Centre for Bone and Muscle Health Brock University | Department of Health Sciences St. Catharines, ON, Canada What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Lithium is best known for its role as a mood stabilizer, and several ecological studies across a number of different regions have shown that trace levels of lithium in tap water can exert its mood stabilizing effect and reduce rates of suicide, crime, and homicide. The results from our study show that these trace levels of lithium could also potentially protect against Alzheimer’s disease.  These findings are actually supported by several years of research using pre-clinical and clinical models to demonstrate low-dose lithium’s neuroprotective effect against Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, we also found that trace lithium in tap water may potentially protect against obesity and diabetes – an effect that is also supported with previous literature.  In fact, some of the earlier reports of lithium’s effect of increasing insulin sensitivity and improving glucose metabolism were first published in the 1920s.  Finally, we found that trace lithium’s effect on Alzheimer’s disease may be partly mediated by its effect on obesity and diabetes. My collaborator Dr. Rebecca MacPherson who is an expert on Alzheimer’s disease as a metabolic disorder explains that this effect is in support of recent research demonstrating that obesity and diabetes are important risk factors in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.  So interventions aiming to reduce obesity and diabetes such as physical activity can go a long way in lowering risk for Alzheimer’s disease, which is also something we present in our study. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, Melanoma / 14.07.2017 Interview with: Maryam M. Asgari, MD, MPH Department of Dermatology Massachusetts General Hospital, Department of Population Medicine Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente Northern California, Oakland What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response:  Laboratory studies show lithium, an activator of  the Wnt/ß-catenin signaling pathway, slows melanoma progression, but no published epidemiologic studies have explored this association. We conducted a retrospective cohort study of adult white Kaiser Permanente Northern California members (n=2,213,848) from 1997-2012 to examine the association between lithium use and melanoma risk. Our main finding is that lithium-exposed individuals had a reduced incidence of melanoma, did not develop very thick tumors (> 4 mm Breslow depth) or extensive disease at presentation, and had decreased melanoma-specific mortality compared to unexposed individuals suggesting a possible role for lithium in altering melanoma risk. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, NEJM, Ophthalmology / 08.06.2017 Interview with: Elisabetta Patorno, MD, DrPH Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital What is the background for this study? Response: Lithium, a widely used medicine to treat bipolar disorder, has been associated with a 400 fold increased risk of Ebstein’s anomaly, a congenital malformation of the heart, and a 5 fold increased risk of cardiac defects overall in infants when taken early in pregnancy, based on the results from the International Register of Lithium Babies in the 1970’s. Beyond this data, most of the information on the safety of lithium during pregnancy accumulated in the last 40 years is based on case reports and small studies with conflicting results. Despite these concerns and the limited information, lithium remains a first-line treatment for the 1% of women of reproductive age with bipolar disorder in the U.S. population, due to its recognized efficacy during pregnancy and the postpartum period, and due to the presence of a larger body of evidence showing increased risk of congenital malformations for other mood stabilizers, such as valproate. (more…)
Author Interviews, Bipolar Disorder, Kidney Disease, Lancet, Mental Health Research, Pharmacology / 24.10.2015 Interview with: Dr. Stefan Clos MSc Applied Health Statistics Psychiatrist Murray Royal Hospital Scotland UK Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Clos: For more than 40 years there has been a debate about the long-term effect of lithium maintenance therapy on renal function. There is a lack of good quality data from randomized clinical trials and two previous meta-analyses from 2010 and 2012 suggest that little evidence exists for a clinically significant reduction in renal function in most patients who are on lithium therapy. However, the two publications point out the poor quality of available study data, emphasising the need for large scale epidemiological studies that control for confounders. Several population-based studies have since attempted to address this problem, but had insufficient ability to adjust for confounders or had limitations because of inappropriate cross-sectional study design or did not include an appropriate comparator group.  (more…)