Chronic use of lithium is safe with regard to the development of kidney and urinary tract cancers

Research output: Contribution to journalConference abstract in journalResearchpeer-review


Background: Lithium induces proliferation in the epithelium of renal collecting ducts. A recent small-scale cohort study reported a strong association between use of lithium and increased risk of renal neoplasia. Objectives: The aim of this study was to study the association between long-term use of lithium and risk of upper urinary tract cancer (UUTC), including renal cell cancer and cancers of renal pelvis or ureter. Methods: Using the powerful Danish nationwide registries and a case-control approach, we identified all histologically verified UUTC cases in Denmark between 2000 and 2012 from the Danish Cancer Registry. A total of 6477 cases were matched on age and gender to 259 080 cancer-free controls. Data on lithium use were obtained from 1995 to 2012 from the Danish Prescription Registry. We estimated the association between long-term use of lithium (>5 years) and risk of UUTC using conditional logistic regression with adjustment for potential confounders. Results: Long-term use of lithium was observed among 0.22% of cases and 0.17% of controls. This yielded an overall adjusted odds ratio (OR) of 1.3 (95%CI: 0.8-2.2) for UUTC associated with long-term use of lithium. Analyses stratified by stage and subtype of cancer displayed a slightly increased risk of localized UUTC (OR 1.6, 95%CI: 0.8-3.0) and renal pelvis/ureter cancers (OR 1.7, 95%CI: 0.5-5.5). Conclusions: In our nationwide case-control study, use of lithium was not associated with an increased risk of UUTC.
Original languageEnglish
Article number54
JournalPharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety
Issue numberS1
Pages (from-to)32
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Event31st International Conference on Pharmacoepidemiology and Therapeutic Risk Management - Boston, United States
Duration: 22. Aug 201526. Aug 2015


Conference31st International Conference on Pharmacoepidemiology and Therapeutic Risk Management
CountryUnited States


Cite this