Finnish researchers found that men who take a sauna several times a week were less likely to die of a heart disease than their peers who only went to a sauna once a week. Also increased sauna use seems to be linked to a prolonged life span.
Scientists found that men who used the sauna seven times a week displayed the most health benefits among all study participants. However, the study did not involve women, but a follow-up study is on its way.
During their study, researchers monitored more than 2,000 Finnish seniors for nearly two decades. The study data revealed that the more often participants used a sauna, the longer they stayed there, the lower the risk of heart failure, fatal heart attack, and fatal coronary heart disease was.
The link between sauna use and long-term benefits remained strong after researchers had removed the factors that may have influenced the results, reported Dr. Jari Laukkanen, lead-author of the study and heart disease expert at the Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition of the University of Eastern Finland.
The study analyzed data on middle-aged men and their sauna habits from the 1980s. Nearly 1,500 study participants said they were going to sauna two to three times a week, 600 reported they go there once a week, while 200 said they take a sauna 4 to 7 times a week. Only a dozen men said they didn’t use sauna at all.
The men also reported that during a sauna session they stayed in the heat two to 90 minutes at temperatures that ranged from 104 to 212 degrees F (40 to 100 degrees C). In Finland taking a sauna is not a luxury, but a part of Finnish culture. Everyone can afford going to a sauna, while wealthier families have even a sauna inside their homes. Also, Finnish sauna is traditionally set at a low humidity.
The study authors compared their findings on sauna habits with death certificates and medical records of the participants to be able to assess the mortality rate and cause of death of those taking part in the research.
Over the 20 years, nearly 200 men died of sudden cardiac death, more than 280 died of coronary heart disease, while 407 died from cardiovascular-related problems. The rest of the participants died from causes not related to a heart condition.
Scientists also found that ten percent of men using the sauna only once a week were involved in a sudden cardiac death, as compared with only five percent of those going to the sauna four to seven days in a week.
Image Source: ESPE 2011
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