European Journal of Epidemiology

, Volume 32, Issue 12, pp 1107–1111 | Cite as

Sauna bathing reduces the risk of respiratory diseases: a long-term prospective cohort study

  • Setor Kwadzo Kunutsor
  • Tanjaniina Laukkanen
  • Jari Antero Laukkanen


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.


Sauna Respiratory disease Pneumonia Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease Asthma Cohort study 



We thank the staff of the Kuopio Research Institute of Exercise Medicine and the Research Institute of Public Health and University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland for the data collection in the study.


This work was supported by the Finnish Foundation for Cardiovascular Research, Helsinki, Finland. These sources had no role in design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; and preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Setor Kwadzo Kunutsor
    • 1
  • Tanjaniina Laukkanen
    • 2
  • Jari Antero Laukkanen
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Clinical SciencesUniversity of Bristol, Learning & Research Building (Level 1), Southmead HospitalBristolUK
  2. 2.Institute of Public Health and Clinical NutritionUniversity of Eastern FinlandKuopioFinland
  3. 3.Central Finland Central HospitalJyväskyläFinland

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