Very low levels of lithium in drinking water may help prevent suicide in the general population, according to a new study. While some substances like fluoride and lithium can occur naturally, what's added to our water supply is anything but natural. For example, the most common type of fluoride added to municipal drinking water is a hazardous industrial waste known as hydrofluorosilicic acid.
The study has prompted calls for further research into the possibility of adding lithium to drinking supplies -- like water fluoridation to improve dental health.
Researchers at Oita University in Japan measured natural lithium levels in tap water in 18 communities in the surrounding region of southern Japan. ...
... Professor Allan Young, a Vancouver-based psychiatrist, has described the study as "intriguing".
Professor Young said: "A logical first step would be for the Medical Research Council to convene an expert working party to examine the available evidence and suggest further research.
"Large-scale trials involving the addition of lithium to drinking water supplies may then be feasible, although this would undoubtedly be subject to considerable debate. Following up on these findings will not be straightforward or inexpensive, but the eventual benefits for community mental health may be considerable."