A 20 year follow-up study of 2,315 men aged 42-60 years at baseline found that individuals who took 4-7 sauna baths per week had a 65% reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease compared to individuals who had just 1 sauna session per week.
The Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease study grouped men from eastern Finland into three separate categories, 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.
As well as finding a 65% (Hazard ratio [HR] 0.35) reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease, the 4-7 times per week group also had a 66% (HR 0.34) reduced risk of dementia. These figures are after adjusting for baseline age, alcohol consumption, BMI, systolic blood pressure, smoking status, type 2 diabetes, and previous myocardial infarction.
Previous findings have associated saunas with cardiac benefits, and the study’s lead author, Professor Jari Laukkanen, suggests that saunas 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.”
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