A study commissioned by the NIH is testing sauna effects on stored toxic chemicals in the body. Will sauna sessions help detox these harmful chemicals from the body to result in better health? That’s the big question.
The National Institutes of Health is sponsoring research at Bastyr University near Seattle to determine the effects of sauna use on toxic environmental chemicals in the body.
Dr. Jason Allen, the lead researcher, is testing whether the sauna helps break down the fatty tissues that can store more than 200 synthetic chemicals. When the chemicals are released from the tissues, the body can excrete them.
Those chemicals, accumulated in the body, are linked to such diseases as cancer, heart disease, obesity and infertility, as well as birth defects and developmental problems – and there is no known way to remove them. The effect on individuals depends on both genetic and environmental factors.
Allen has built a sauna that combines a traditional heater and radiant heating panels for the three-week study.
One group of people will use the sauna for two hours at a time five days a week, another group one hour at a time three days a week. A third group, for control, will not use the sauna.
The groups using the sauna will be monitored for health and mood, and blood tests will monitor their PCB levels.
“Products are out there that slowly degrade in the environment and accumulate in humans, particularly in fat,” Allen told a Seattle radio station. “So in this study, we picked one chemical that’s detectable in 100 percent of the human population, in fact 100 percent of the mammalian population, and those are PCBs.
PCBs, once common chemicals in electrical components, were banned in 1979 in the United States and in 2001 around the world, but Allen says more than 80,000 untested chemicals are still used in manufacturing.
If the study demonstrates a reduction in chemicals from sauna use, we’ll know that the healthy glow you gain from your session is much more than skin deep. Stay tuned.
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