HELSINKI, May 3 (Xinhua) -- Frequent sauna bathing could significantly reduce the risk of stroke, a study conducted by researchers has shown.
The 15-year follow-up study has found that people taking a sauna four to seven times a week have 61 percent lower risk to suffer a stroke than those taking a sauna once a week, according to a press release issued by the University of Eastern Finland on Thursday.
It was conducted by scientists at the University of Eastern Finland in cooperation with international universities including the University of Bristol, the University of Cambridge, the University of Innsbruck and others.
The findings are based on a population-based study involving 1,628 men and women aged 53 to 74 years living in the eastern part of Finland.
The study participants were divided into three groups: those taking a sauna once a week, those taking a sauna 2-3 times a week, and those taking a sauna 4-7 times a week.
The more frequently they took saunas, the lower risk of stroke they had. The strength of association was similar in men and women, according to the study.
The association persisted even when taking into account stroke risk factors, including age, sex, diabetes, body mass index, blood lipids, alcohol consumption, physical activity and socio-economic status.
A previous study made by researchers at the University of Eastern Finland observed that plentiful sauna bathing also reduces the risk of heart disease and death.
The recent study indicated that mechanisms that drive the association of sauna bathing with reduced risk of stroke include reducing blood pressure, stimulating the immune system and improving functions of the heart and circulatory system.
It was the first large-scale study on the topic, and the results were published in the Journal of Neurology, said the university.