I have to give the pharmaceutical industry credit. They will worm their way into every possible market niche, no matter how small, to hook the consumer. Consider the following bit of research news, as reported by United Press International:
A U.S. study has determined lithium — a drug commonly used to treat bipolar disorder — can significantly increase the lifespan of nematode worms.
Researchers at the Buck Institute said worms treated with lithium showed a 46 percent increase in lifespan, raising the question of whether humans taking the mood affecting drug are also taking an anti-aging medication.
Lithium has been used for decades to treat mood affective disorders, including bipolar disease. Although the drug has been shown to protect neurons, the underlying mechanism of its therapeutic action isn’t understood. In humans, lithiumâ€™s therapeutic range is very limited and the drug has serious side effects.
In the study, scientists discovered the worms’ longevity increased when the lithium reduced the activity of a gene that modulates the basic structure of chromosomes. [full text]
Sure, the worms lived longer, but what was the quality of their lives like? And how did the scientists determine which of the worms needed to be “treated with lithium”? Was it assumedâ€”because they were wiggling around on the pavement with abandon one day and then snoozing in their earthen beds the next dayâ€”that they were bipolar? Did the scientists even do a differential diagnosis?!? Geez, and I thought the research on schizophrenic mice was weird.