Lithium and renal and upper urinary tract tumors – results from a nationwide population‐based study

Bipolar Disorders, Wiley, ISSN 1399-5618

Volume 17, 8, 2015

DOI:10.1111/bdi.12344, Dimensions: pub.1035438170, PMID: 26534877,



  1. (1) Rigshospitalet, grid.475435.4, Capital Region
  2. (2) University of Copenhagen, grid.5254.6, KU
  3. (3) Aalborg University, grid.5117.2, AAU
  4. (4) Aalborg University Hospital, Psychiatry Aalborg Denmark






OBJECTIVES: A recent alarming finding suggested an increased risk of renal tumors among long-term lithium users. The objectives of the present study were to estimate rates of renal and upper urinary tract tumors (RUT), malignant and benign, among individuals exposed to successive prescriptions for lithium, anticonvulsants, and other psychotropic agents used for bipolar disorder, and among unexposed individuals. METHODS: This was a nationwide, population-based longitudinal study including time-specific data from all individuals exposed to lithium (n = 24,272) or anticonvulsants (n = 386,255), all individuals with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder (n = 9,651), and a randomly selected sample of 1,500,000 from the Danish population. The study period was from 1995 to 2012, inclusive. Outcomes were hazard rate ratios (HR) for RUT in three groups: (i) combined malignant and benign, (ii) malignant, and (iii) benign. Analyses were adjusted for the number of prescriptions for lithium/anticonvulsants, antipsychotic agents, antidepressants, and use of all other types of medication; age; gender; employment status; calendar year; and a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. RESULTS: Continued treatment with lithium was not associated with increased rates of RUT [adjusted HR malignant or benign: 0.67-1.18, p (trend) = 0.70; adjusted HR malignant: 0.61-1.34, p (trend) = 0.90; adjusted HR benign: 0.74-1.18, p (trend) = 0.70]. Similarly, continued treatment with anticonvulsants was not associated with increased rates of RUT [adjusted HR malignant or benign: 0.97-1.18, p (trend) = 0.10; adjusted HR malignant: 0.82-1.15, p (trend) = 0.80; adjusted HR benign: 0.94-1.36, p (trend) = 0.20]. The associations were confirmed among the 9,651 patients with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. CONCLUSIONS: Treatment with lithium is not associated with increased rates of RUT.


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