Sauna bathing has been linked with numerous health benefits. Sauna bathing may reduce the risk of respiratory diseases; however, no prospective evidence exists to support this hypothesis. We aimed to assess the association of frequency of sauna bathing with risk of respiratory diseases (defined as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, or pneumonia). Baseline sauna bathing habits were assessed in a prospective cohort of 1935 Caucasian men aged 42-61 years. During a median follow-up of 25.6 years, 379 hospital diagnosed incident cases of respiratory diseases were recorded. In adjustment for several major risk factors for respiratory conditions and other potential confounders, the hazard ratios (HRs) 95% confidence intervals (CIs) of respiratory diseases were 0.73 (0.58-0.92) and 0.59 (0.37-0.94) for participants who had 2-3 and ≥4 sauna sessions per week respectively compared with participants who had ≤1 sauna session per week. The multivariate adjusted HR (95% CI) for pneumonia was 0.72 (0.57-0.90) and 0.63 (0.39-1.00) for participants who had 2-3 and ≥4 sauna sessions per week respectively. Frequent sauna baths may be associated with a reduced risk of acute and chronic respiratory conditions in a middle-aged male Caucasian population.
Keywords: Asthma; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Cohort study; Pneumonia; Respiratory disease; Sauna.