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Sauna Bathing and Healthy Sweating: II

      To the Editor:
      In their review on Cardiovascular and Other Benefits of Sauna Bathing, Laukkanen et al
      • Laukkanen J.A.
      • Laukkanen T.
      • Kunutsor S.K.
      Cardiovascular and other health benefits of sauna bathing: a review of the evidence.
      observed that, in a previous population cohort study, they detected that frequent use of sauna bathing (4 to 7 times a week), showed a 66% reduction in dementia in Finnish men compared with those who had 1 session per week. Regarding a possible mechanism for such a dramatic effect, toxicologists have shown that sweating is a major means of excreting both organochlorine pesticides
      • Genuis S.J.
      • Lane K.
      • Birkholz D.
      Human elimination of organochlorine pesticides: blood, urine, and sweat study.
      and a variety of toxic metals including cadmium, lead, and aluminum.
      • Genuis S.J.
      • Birkholz D.
      • Rodushkin I.
      • Beesoon S.
      Blood, urine, and sweat (BUS) study: monitoring and elimination of bioaccumulated toxic elements.
      Surprisingly, substantially more of these toxic substances can be excreted via sweat than by urine, so increasing sweating became an effective means of enhancing excretion of toxic substances. Rea reported that the use of sauna therapy improved the condition of patients with confirmed exposure to mold (including stachybortrys), those who had mycotoxins (including ochratoxin) in their urine, and patients who had impaired neurocognitive testing or autonomic nervous system testing results and whose conditions were refractory to other treatments.
      • Rea W.J.
      A large case-series of successful treatment of patients exposed to mold and mycotoxin.
      In a review of the high prevalence of fatal dementia in Finland,
      • Eiser A.R.
      Why does Finland have the highest dementia mortality rate? Environmental factors may be generalizable.
      I noted that the frequent presence of mold in residential buildings is one of the contributing factors there. Similar problems with moldy environments exist throughout the world and are certainly common in the United States and Canada, 2 other countries with very high rates of dementia. A prospective clinical trial of sauna therapy for patients with early dementia who test positive for mycotoxins, toxic metals, or organic toxins appears warranted and feasible. Although this type of therapy is one of several promising new approaches to preventing or treating dementia, it should not be overlooked simply because it is unconventional.

      References

        • Laukkanen J.A.
        • Laukkanen T.
        • Kunutsor S.K.
        Cardiovascular and other health benefits of sauna bathing: a review of the evidence.
        Mayo Clin Proc. 2018; 93: 1111-1121
        • Genuis S.J.
        • Lane K.
        • Birkholz D.
        Human elimination of organochlorine pesticides: blood, urine, and sweat study.
        BioMed Res Int. 2016;
        • Genuis S.J.
        • Birkholz D.
        • Rodushkin I.
        • Beesoon S.
        Blood, urine, and sweat (BUS) study: monitoring and elimination of bioaccumulated toxic elements.
        Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 2011; 61: 344-357
        • Rea W.J.
        A large case-series of successful treatment of patients exposed to mold and mycotoxin.
        Clin Ther. 2018; 40: 889-893
        • Eiser A.R.
        Why does Finland have the highest dementia mortality rate? Environmental factors may be generalizable.
        Brain Res. 2017; 1671: 14-17

      Linked Article

      • In reply—Sauna Bathing and Healthy Sweating
        Mayo Clinic ProceedingsVol. 94Issue 4
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          We thank Eiser and Brooks for their comments about the health benefits of sauna bathing. Regular sauna bathing has some beneficial effects on blood pressure, cardiometabolic biomarkers, arterial compliance, and cardiovascular function.1 Our prospective studies have shown that higher frequency and duration of sauna bathing are related to a lower risk of cardiovascular mortality, sudden cardiac death, stroke, hypertension, pulmonary diseases, and dementia.1-3 The feelings of relaxation and promotion of mental health and well-being associated with sauna sessions might be linked to the increased production of circulating levels of hormones such as endorphins.
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      • Effect of the Significant Loss of Salt in Sweat
        Mayo Clinic ProceedingsVol. 94Issue 4
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          The review article on the health benefits of sauna bathing in the August 2018 issue1 appeared comprehensive but failed to mention the effect of the significant loss of salt in sweat that occurs with this clearly beneficial event repeated on a regular basis. Wouldn't most— if not all—of these benefits occur simply as a result of regularly repeated substantial losses of salt from the body? Is this counter-balanced by the consumption of salt-preserved fish in Finland?
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      • Cardiovascular and Other Health Benefits of Sauna Bathing: A Review of the Evidence
        Mayo Clinic ProceedingsVol. 93Issue 8
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          Sauna bathing, an activity that has been a tradition in Finland for thousands of years and mainly used for the purposes of pleasure and relaxation, is becoming increasingly popular in many other populations. Emerging evidence suggests that beyond its use for pleasure, sauna bathing may be linked to several health benefits, which include reduction in the risk of vascular diseases such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and neurocognitive diseases; nonvascular conditions such as pulmonary diseases; mortality; as well as amelioration of conditions such as arthritis, headache, and flu.
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