Lithium May Reduce Cancer Risk
New research suggests that cumulative exposure to lithium may correlate with reduced cancer risk in patients with bipolar disorder. A 2016 article by Yi-Hsin Yang and colleagues in the British Journal of Psychiatry reports findings from a Taiwanese population database study of 4,729 adult patients with bipolar disorder, 115 of whom were diagnosed with cancer. Those who had been prescribed lithium (with or without anticonvulsants) had lower rates of cancer (1.96%) than those who received only anticonvulsants (2.65%).
Incidence of cancer was higher among the patients with bipolar disorder than the general population in the study. Other studies have indicated that cancer risk is higher among people with bipolar disorder than those without.
Those people who took a recommended maintenance lithium dose for 215 days or longer had a 44.8% lower risk of cancer than those who took only anticonvulsants.