Regular saunas could reduce the risk of dementia, new study finds

Middle aged men in Finland who take a sauna more than four times a week are two thirds less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or dementia over a 20 year period.

Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland followed 2,315 men aged 42-60 years for 20 years as part of the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Study. Men who reported taking a sauna 4-7 times per week were 66% less likely to receive a diagnosis of dementia than those who only sauna once a week. They were also 65% less likely to receive a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

Differences in age, blood pressure, alcohol use, smoking, blood cholesterol and other health conditions between the groups were accounted for in the analysis.

Dr Clare Walton, Research Manager at Alzheimer’s Society said: 

'With dementia now the biggest killer across England and Wales, finding ways to reduce the risk of developing the condition is a top priority. Saunas are thought to improve circulation and reduce blood pressure, both of which could go some way to reducing your risk of getting dementia. 

'This is the first study to look for a link between using saunas and helping reduce the risk of dementia – it found that Finnish men who visit a sauna more than four times a week were two thirds less likely to develop dementia over the next 20 years. However, this type of study alone cannot tell us whether starting a regular sauna habit is a worthwhile way to improve brain health. Currently the best evidence to reduce the risk of dementia is to exercise regularly, eat a healthy, balanced diet and avoid smoking.'

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