Health & Wellbeing

Frequent sauna sessions may lower dementia risk

Scientists have established a link between frequent sauna bathing and a lowered risk of dementia
Scientists have established a link between frequent sauna bathing and a lowered risk of dementia
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Scientists have established a link between frequent sauna bathing and a lowered risk of dementia
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Scientists have established a link between frequent sauna bathing and a lowered risk of dementia

We've already heard that things like special enzymes and fresh produce may help ward off Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. According to new research from the University of Eastern Finland, however, you can now add "taking saunas" to that list – and the more often you take them, the better.

The university's Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study involved over 2,000 healthy men aged between 42 and 60, living in eastern Finland. At the start of the study period, the men were divided into three groups: those taking a sauna once a week, those taking a sauna two to three times a week, and those taking a sauna four to seven times a week.

After approximately 20 years the scientists checked back on them, to see how many test subjects from each group had developed Alzheimer's or other types of dementia. According to the university, "Among those taking a sauna four to seven times a week, the risk of any form of dementia was 66 percent lower and the risk of Alzheimer's disease 65 percent lower than among those taking a sauna just once a week."

Additionally, earlier research within the same study indicated that frequent sauna-use also significantly reduced the risk of sudden cardiac death, the risk of death due to coronary artery disease and other cardiac events, as well as overall mortality.

The precise reasons why saunas are good for both the brain and the heart still aren't fully understood, although study leader Prof. Jari Laukkanen believes that the two are likely connected. "It is known that cardiovascular health affects the brain as well," he says. "The sense of well-being and relaxation experienced during sauna bathing may also play a role."

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Age and Ageing.

Source: University of Eastern Finland

13 comments
Sean Reynolds
This is exactly the sort of research that irritates me! This is Correlation not Causation! The better title for this article would be: The same things that might cause you to go to the sauna more frequently might also contribute to a reduction in dementia. This is not science! This is not proof. This is publishing a postulate. We should not be giving out Doctoral Degrees for Postulates!
Commontator
How can carefully worded phrases like: "...believes that the two are likely connected" and "...may play a role..." be construed as irritating "postulate"? Heat is being studied as a tool against diabetes, according to several articles I've read. One might expect heat in a sauna. There may (or may not) be a connection. One of the fun things about science is that we don't know the answers and are often delighted by the questions we discover; Penicillin, made Fleming ask why a moldy petri dish held less Staphylococcus; a falling apple struck Newton as strange enough to question earlier postulates with gravity. [A] correlation, on the other hand, is the remarkable relationship between the abundance of exclamation marks in a rant and a smug bigot.
Bob
I agree with Sean. There apparently was no diet, blood pressure or other critical data recorded. The interesting thing about using math and statistics is that you will ALWAYS get an answer. Whether or not that answer is meaningful depends on the variables chosen and the weight given to them as well as if the test was repeatable. They could have included the color of the men's automobiles and gotten a positive correlation. The scientific method has certainly deteriorated from what it was 50 years ago when rigorous testing was needed which would be repeated over and over by different scientists before being considered as proof. Today, one or two results are often taken as conclusive proof of preconceived theories. Worse yet, those questionable theories are then often accepted as fact.
guzmanchinky
Sean said it already, the people taking saunas may have more time, money and freedom to do so and may also lead healthier lifestyles...
Commontator
The original article in the Oxford Journals clearly includes blood pressure in the battery of tests performed on the subjects. It also concludes that further testing is necessary. To know this, the reader would have to actually read the article. Reading is not required for spouting criticism, though. Scientific methodology has made great strides over the past 50 years. Public peer review is one of them. The worldwide web has made this process easier by providing widespread access and increased transparency. Peers? - uh, that means, equals in knowledge and experience; not lazy, loudmouthed, lay critics who seem to think CAPITALIZATION or exclamation! marks validate their ignorant proclamations. The reason we do not have access to many potentially life-saving treatments today, is the very rigorous long-term testing those treatments must undergo, before they can be approved for use by humans.
Bob
I commented on THIS article and AGREED with Sean's comment!!! Having degrees in both chemistry and physics along with developing computer programs used for converting labor intensive wet analysis to instrumental methods used in top labs all over the world, I do have some experience with mathematical models and statistics along with the scientific method. I don't know Sean's background but I thought he made an accurate assessment of this study. Science groupies like Commontator seem to think that science can do no wrong. Unfortunately, profit, politics and big money have distorted the world of science. Many great discoveries and advancements have been made but things aren't often what they seem. Only those inside the sciences understand what I mean. Commontator seems to be intolerant of capital letters, exclamation points and others opinions. Is there a tator peer group?
TaistoLeinonen
Ladies and gentlemen. Without taking any stance in this case, please remember that in Finland we have had saunas for millenia. And, please, never - never pronounce it as "soona", "showna". Just pronounce fauna and replace f with s. Very simple. My father was born in a smoke sauna (no chimney). The cleanest place on the earth. When USSR attacked Finland in fall 1939, our fallen soldiers were washed in sauna (all of them) before burial. In a real Finnish sauna the temperature is 80 to 100 to 120 oC. Water is thrown copiously on the stones of the stove. No towels. Just tingling swetting and then jump into a frozen lake or on snow. Just once in your life test a real Finnish sauna and you'll find your comments being on the wrong track. And for the record: I have been teaching biomedical engineering in two universities 1969-74, read a paper on medical instrumentation in Chicago in 1969 and have grades in all subjects of premedical studies. Sincerely yours, Taisto Leinonen, M.Sc (electronics) and Editor-in-Chief in two Finnish electronics magazines.
SBeckas
I noticed also that the photo has a man and a woman pictured and the study was only done on men.
habakak
Bob....it appears that Sean Reynolds is criticizing the NEW ATLATS ARTICLE ABOUT the research and not the research itself actually. He appears to have read the article and not the research paper. As far as the article goes, his critique is valid. But probably not because of the research method used, more likely because of the abbreviated approach by the author of the NA article. Based on what's in the article, I do agree with him. As for the research, I have not read the paper but there might be more details in there to answer some of Seans questions. That being said, I find these research articles fluff pieces and can draw no valid conclusion from it. As for the scientific method, I believe it is much better today. People like to believe that prior generations had higher moral values than us. Because people like to refer to the past as the 'good old days'. The old days was not that good. As a matter of fact, in almost every respect it was worse than today. People lived short and brutal live. Competition was brutal and resources much scarcer. Information and knowledge even less so. Just go and look at the medical industry and see some of their approaches to healing and cures just 50 or 100 years ago. Peoples moral values were also a lot lower because poverty and lack of opportunity makes people corrupt. They do things they otherwise wouldn't like to do to stay alive. Today there is much less of that. Just compare rich countries to poor countries. Moral fabric in richer countries are typically much higher and stronger than in poor ones. The world today is a much richer place than it was 100 years ago, and consequently also a more moral place in general. I'm not saying it's perfect, but it is by far much better in almost any respect than the past. People look fondly upon the past for two reasons. It was good because they weren't there and like to fantasize about it. And for the recent past that they did experience, they remember it fondly because they were younger and healthier with more excitement in their daily lives. It's all hubris.
Stephen N Russell
Reason to sauna more?? Yes.
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