JOENSUU, Finland, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland found that men who frequently used saunas were much less likely to develop dementia.
The 20-year study showed that men taking a sauna 4-7 times a week were 66 percent less likely to be diagnosed with dementia than men taking a sauna only once a week.
The Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study examined the effects for sauna bathing on the risk of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia in more than 2,000 middle-aged men in eastern Finland.
Participants were divided into three groups: men taking a sauna once a week, men taking a sauna 2-3 times a week and men taking a sauna 4-7 times a week.
The study found that men taking a sauna 4-7 times a week had a 66 percent lower risk of developing any form of dementia and a 65 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease than those taking a sauna only once a week.
Other positive effects from frequent sauna bathing were significantly reduced risks of sudden cardiac death, death due to coronary artery disease and other cardiac events, along with overall mortality.
"However, it is known that cardiovascular health affects the brain as well," Professor Jari Laukkanen, study leader, said in a press release. "The sense of well-being and relaxation experienced during sauna bathing may also play a role."
The findings were published in the journal Age and Ageing.