Sweating for the Oldies: Sauna Use May Cut Dementia Risk

Though study in Finland can't explain why
By Linda Hervieux,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 19, 2016 9:40 AM CST
Saunas May Lower Risk of Dementia
File photo of the Sauna World Championships in Heinola, Finland. Frequent sauna baths may help you live longer and avoid dementia, a study found.   (AP Photo/Lehtikuva, Leif Rosas)

Here's one good reason to sweat it out in the sauna on your next visit to the gym: It could reduce your risk of dementia. In the first study of its kind, Finnish researchers found that men who used a sauna four to seven times a week were 66% less likely to be diagnosed with dementia. Writing in the journal Age and Ageing, researchers said more study is needed to figure out the link between sauna bathing and memory. "It is known that cardiovascular health affects the brain as well," says lead author Jari Laukkanen, per Science Daily. "The sense of well-being and relaxation experienced during sauna bathing may also play a role."

Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland divided 2,300 men between 42 and 60 years old into three groups: those who used a sauna once a week, two to three times a week, and four to seven times a week. Not only were the frequent users 66% less likely to be troubled with any form of dementia, they were 65% less likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Average temperatures in the sauna hovered around 174 degrees Fahrenheit. The men were followed for more than 20 years as part of the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study, which has produced valuable research over the years, including last year's findings that higher egg consumption lowered the risk of type 2 diabetes. (Previous research from the same long-term study suggests the sauna can help you live longer.)

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