Sauna Prevents Alzheimer’s?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that Alzheimer’s disease causes 34.4 deaths per 100,000 of population, making it the sixth leading cause of death in the country. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, and existing treatments have serious limitations. “As Alzheimer’s progresses, brain cells die and connections among cells are lost, causing cognitive symptoms to worsen. While current medications cannot stop the damage Alzheimer’s causes to brain cells, they may help lessen or stabilize symptoms for a limited time by affecting certain chemicals involved in carrying messages among the brain’s nerve cells.” The Alzheimer’s Association says (PDF) that 5.7 million Americans have it now, and that figure will grow to nearly 14 million by 2050. One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.

A review of the Framingham Heart Study found that at age 45, lifetime risk (i.e., the risk of developing the disease in one’s remaining lifetime) was one in five for women and one in ten for men. Furthermore, the typical slow rate at which the disease advances in an individual makes it weigh disproportionately on families. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “Alzheimer’s is a very burdensome disease, not only to the patients but also to their families and informal caregivers, and… the burden of Alzheimer’s has increased more dramatically in the United States than other diseases in recent years.”

If you don’t like the odds, however, a recent paper in the publication Age Ageing suggests you can improve them. The paper reported on a longitudinal study of 2,315 healthy, middle-aged Finnish men. On followup (anywhere from 18 to 22 years after initial examinations), the researchers found that 204 of the men were diagnosed with dementia; an additional 123 were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s dementia. In reviewing lifestyle factors, the researchers controlled for age, alcohol consumption, body mass index, systolic blood pressure, smoking status, Type 2 diabetes, previous heart attack, resting heart rate, and level of LDL cholesterol. They found that using a sauna 2-3 times per week lowered the risk of both dementia and Alzheimer’s dementia (by about 20%), compared to using it only once a week. Not only that, but they found that men who used sauna 4-7 times per week had only half the risk of those who used it 2-3 times per week. The study authors concluded: “in this male population, moderate to high frequency of sauna bathing was associated with lowered risks of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.”

If you think sauna bathing could improve your odds of avoiding dementia, allow me to suggest the infrared sauna at Peak Recovery & Health Center. Unlike traditional hot rock based saunas that operate at well in excess of 200°F, infrared heat has the benefit of being effective at a much more comfortable temperature of 100°-150°F. Traditional saunas focus on heating the air as opposed to heating the body directly. Since infrared heat penetrates human tissue rather than simply heating the surface of the skin, infrared saunas are about seven times more effective than traditional saunas at detoxifying the body. 

Book an infrared sauna session at Peak Recovery & Health Center today, and consider doing so several times a week. If it works for middle-aged Finnish men, it will probably work for you.