Long Life and Health
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Aging

Study Finds Lithium May Increase Lifespan

A study found an unexpected “side effect” in people taking lithium drugs to control psychosis. Such patients seem to live significantly longer than those on other kinds of antipsychotic medications.

Does this mean that lithium has the potential as an antiaging or life-extending drug?

Lithium has long been prescribed for certain psychiatric conditions, mainly bipolar disorder. With time, evidence began to accumulate that lithium might have other benefits for health and longevity; this is similar to what happened with metformin, which is an anti-diabetes drug that is now very popular with antiaging practitioners.

In this latest study, the researchers used data from UK Biobank – a huge repository of medical information on almost half a million British citizens – to see if taking lithium as a drug was associated with lower all-cause mortality.

They analyzed a cohort of patients with F3X mood disorders, so-called because they are in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) as F30 to F39. According to the study, those diagnoses significantly shorten lifespan by increasing the risk of death from suicide, respiratory diseases, mental disorders, COVID-19, and other proximate causes.

Patients who took lithium were compared to patients who took other psychotropic drugs for at least three consecutive months. After the Biobank analysis, a clear trend emerged – lithium use significantly extended its lifespan.

Lithium users had 3.6 times lower chances of dying at a given age compared to other antipsychotic drug users.

The results of this study -nearly a 4-fold decrease in mortality — certainly look promising and will fuel the growing interest in lithium as a potential life-extending drug.

However, more research is needed. For instance, while data suggest that metformin users, who are usually diabetic, have fewer chances of dying than even their healthy peers, we don’t have such data for lithium yet.

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