Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Lithium in drinking water in Andean villages could affect thyroid function, research suggests

Date:
April 5, 2011
Source:
Lund University
Summary:
Lithium is an element used in batteries and also for medication, as an established and common treatment for bipolar disorder. Swedish researchers have now found that women in four mountain villages in Argentinean Andes Mountains ingest so much lithium via the groundwater that this could affect thyroid function, causing so-called hypothyroidism. This is a metabolic disorder which gives rise to weight gain, fatigue, depression, sensitivity to cold and memory loss.

Lithium is an element used in batteries and also for medication, as an established and common treatment for bipolar disorder. Swedish researchers have now found that women in four mountain villages in Argentinean Andes Mountains ingest so much lithium via the groundwater that this could affect thyroid function, causing so-called hypothyroidism. This is a metabolic disorder which gives rise to weight gain, fatigue, depression, sensitivity to cold and memory loss.

Related Articles


That the thyroid can be affected and that the kidneys in rare cases can be damaged are known side-effects of medication with lithium. Female patients who become pregnant are also advised against taking medicine containing lithium, as the substance can affect the fetus.

"The amounts of lithium that the Latin American women are ingesting via their drinking water are perhaps a tenth of what a patient would take daily for bipolar disorder. But, on the other hand, they are absorbing this lithium all their lives, even from before birth," says occupational and environmental physician Karin Broberg from Lund University in Sweden.

"What this implies for their health, we don't really know in practice. That is why we are planning a new study which will compare the health of two groups of mothers and children: respectively, the ones with the highest and lowest levels of lithium in their blood."

The Andes Mountains are rich in elements, to which the large copper mines in Chile and Peru, among others, bear witness. In several countries, lithium is also extracted, and Bolivia has enormous lithium reserves in its large salt desert, Salar de Uyuni. However the elements in the ground are not just a resource but also an environmental risk. In an earlier study in which Karin Broberg took part, involving the same mountain villages in the Salta province in Northwest Argentina, high levels of arsenic, lithium, cesium, rubidium and boron were found in the drinking water and in the urine of the women studied.

"Lifelong ingestion of arsenic and lithium brings a clear health risk. What the ingestion of the other substances implies is not known, because there is very little research on their role in ordinary drinking water," she says.

The researchers have carried out their studies with a technique called mass spectrometry. With older techniques it has only been possible to analyse one substance at a time in a water sample for example, but through refinement of mass spectrometry scientists are now able to measure the content of a long list of substances at the same time. That is why Karin Broberg thinks the technique should be widely used to analyse people's drinking water.

"Groundwater has in many places been considered better to drink than the often polluted water from lakes and rivers. But in Bangladesh this has caused enormous health problems, when it turned out that the water from drilled wells contained arsenic. Very little is known about the concentration of lithium and other potentially dangerous substances in the groundwater around the world, so this should also be measured," she believes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Lund University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Karin Broberg, Gabriela Concha, Karin Engstrom, Magnus Lindvall, Margaretha Grandιr, Marie Vahter. Lithium in Drinking Water and Thyroid Function. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2011; DOI: 10.1289/ehp.1002678

Cite This Page:

Lund University. "Lithium in drinking water in Andean villages could affect thyroid function, research suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 April 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110405102036.htm>.
Lund University. (2011, April 5). Lithium in drinking water in Andean villages could affect thyroid function, research suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110405102036.htm
Lund University. "Lithium in drinking water in Andean villages could affect thyroid function, research suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110405102036.htm (accessed January 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Rare Clouds Fill Grand Canyon

Raw: Rare Clouds Fill Grand Canyon

AP (Jan. 29, 2015) — For the second time in two months, a rare weather phenomenon filled the Grand Canyon with thick clouds just below the rim on Wednesday. (Jan. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Senate Passes Bill for Keystone XL Pipeline

Senate Passes Bill for Keystone XL Pipeline

AP (Jan. 29, 2015) — The Republican-controlled Senate has passed a bipartisan bill approving construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. (Jan. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
"Cloud Inversion" In Grand Canyon

"Cloud Inversion" In Grand Canyon

Reuters - US Online Video (Jan. 29, 2015) — Time lapse video captures a blanket of clouds amassing in the Grand Canyon -- the result of a rare meteorological process called "cloud inversion." Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Researchers Say We Should Cut Back On Biofuels

Why Researchers Say We Should Cut Back On Biofuels

Newsy (Jan. 29, 2015) — Biofuels aren&apos;t the best alternative to fossil fuels, according to a new report. In fact, they&apos;re quite a bad one. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins