Regular Finnish saunas have benefits for mind as well as body. [Photo: Bigstock]

Regular saunas lower men’s dementia risk

20 December, 2016

Natural Health News — Frequent sauna bathing can significantly reduce the risk of dementia, according to a recent study.

In a 20-year study carried out at the University of Eastern Finland, men taking a sauna 4-7 times a week were 66% less likely to be diagnosed with dementia than those taking a sauna once a week.

This association between sauna bathing and dementia risk has not been previously studied.

The effects of sauna bathing on the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia were studied in the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study (KIHD), involving more than 2,000 middle-aged men living in the eastern part of Finland. Based on their sauna-bathing habits, the study participants were divided into three groups: those taking a sauna once a week, those taking a sauna 2-3 times a week, and those taking a sauna 4-7 times a week.

What you need to know

» Sauna has many benefits, but it’s effect on the mind have never been explored.

» A study of 2000 men in Finland found that frequent regular saunas – 4-7 times a week – could cut the risk of developing any form of dementia by 66% and the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by 65%.

Brain benefits

The more frequently saunas were taken, the lower was the risk of dementia. Among those taking a sauna 4-7 times a week, the risk of any form of dementia was 66% lower and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease 65% lower than among those taking a sauna just once a week. The findings were published recently in the Age and Ageing journal.

Previous results from the KIHD study have shown that frequent sauna bathing also significantly reduces the risk of sudden cardiac death, the risk of death due to coronary artery disease and other cardiac events, as well as overall mortality.

According to Professor Jari Laukkanen, the study leader, sauna bathing may protect both the heart and memory to some extent via similar, still poorly known mechanisms. “However, it is known that cardiovascular health affects the brain as well. The sense of well-being and relaxation experienced during sauna bathing may also play a role.”