Taking frequent baths may reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease, new research suggests.
Japanese researchers studied 30,076 men and women beginning in 1990 and followed them through 2009. The participants completed questionnaires about their general health and their bathing habits at the start of the analysis. Researchers divided them into three groups: people who took baths two or fewer times a week, three to four times a week, or daily. The study is in the journal Heart.
Over 20 years, there were 328 cases of coronary heart disease and 1,769 strokes. After controlling for many other cardiovascular risk factors, they found that compared with people who took baths less than twice a week, those who took baths three to four times had a 25 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease and a 13 percent lower risk of stroke. Daily bathers had a 35 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease and a 23 percent lower risk of stroke.
Participants were asked to describe their baths as lukewarm, warm or hot. The temperature of the water made no difference.
The reasons for the effect are unclear, but the researchers suggest that warm baths lower blood pressure and improve blood vessel function.
A co-author, Dr. Hiroyasu Iso, a professor of public health at Osaka University, said that the findings might not apply to other populations. Still, he said, “Americans who habitually bathe in a tub, or are willing to do so, may have an additional cardiovascular health benefit.”