We all know that one way our bodies eliminate toxins is through sweating. That’s one reason why it’s so important to shower after any activity that causes you to sweat profusely; if the sweat remains sitting on the surface of your skin, you will reabsorb all those toxins your body just worked so hard to get rid of! Saunas are a great way to sweat out those toxins, but when it comes to cancer, saunas (and infrared saunas specifically) may have additional benefits. Let’s first look at the differences between traditional saunas that use steam or wood stoves to generate heat versus infrared saunas.
Infrared vs. Traditional Saunas
While traditional saunas use hot coals or rocks, infrared saunas use heating panels that emit the same rays that come from the sun, minus the UV. Traditional saunas heat up quite quickly, opening pores and relaxing muscles, while infrared saunas are able to penetrate more deeply into muscles and joints.
So, What Do These Differences Mean for Overall Health?
Because infrared saunas penetrate your body more deeply, they are more effective at pulling out toxins that are hiding in your deep tissues. Steam rooms and traditional saunas will help you sweat out readily available toxins, but they won’t touch those deeply rooted ones that have made a happy home in your muscles, fat, and other hard-to-reach tissues. This means that infrared saunas in particular will aid in a much more effective detox than traditional ones, helping you to more effectually achieve whole-body health and healing.
Great! But What Does This Mean for Cancer?
If you don’t already know, detoxing is one of the five navigation points in the Solis North Star Strategy for cancer risk reduction. Just as it is important for you to eliminate your exposure to toxins in your environment, it is equally important to rid your body of those that have been collecting inside of you over your lifetime. Toxic buildup can cause a whole host of issues, not the least of which is a compromised immune system. “There is increasing awareness and concern within the scientific and public communities that chemical pollutants can suppress immune processes and thus cause increased development of neoplastic [diseases characterized by uncontrolled growth, like cancer] and infectious diseases. Adverse effects on humans treated with immunosuppressive drugs, numerous studies employing experimental animals, and, to a lesser extent, isolated cases of altered immune function in humans inadvertently or occupationally exposed to xenobiotic [foreign chemical] substances support these concerns” . It is pretty obvious that when healing or preventing cancer, you want all of your defences and offences working as optimally as possible; so, this makes detoxing effectively extremely important to your healing and prevention protocol.
Another really interesting aspect of infrared heat is that cancer doesn’t like it, or heat in general for that matter. I go into detail on heat and cancer in my blog post on hyperthermia as an alternative or complementary treatment, but this adverse relationship between cancer and infrared heat is one of the modalities behind hyperthermia and saunas’ efficacy against cancer cells. Heat weakens the walls of cancer cells (and can actually kill young cells), making it easier for any drug or natural anti-cancer substance you are taking to get inside of them and do their job. However, traditional saunas and steam rooms won’t achieve the kind of deep, core heat that is required, making infrared saunas a more effective choice. “Saunas, and particularly infrared saunas, can also play a big role in preventing or reversing cancer […] While saunas are not nearly as potent as hyperthermia treatments (which can expose the body to up to 113 degrees Fahrenheit), infrared saunas can heat the body a few degrees and cause a fever. This is a much gentler and slower method, but it is much safer and easier to tolerate and control. Infrared saunas provide a form of whole-body hyperthermia that boosts health in many ways. Dr. Wilson noted that infrared sauna therapy for cancer offers a combination of healing mechanisms that act simultaneously and synergistically to support the fight against cancer” . In fact, a study published in the Journal of Cancer Science and Therapy in 2009 found that tumour-infected mice saw an 86% decrease in the size of their masses after just 30 days of infrared treatment . Pretty interesting!
The other extremely cool thing about infrared radiant heat is that healthy cells are unaffected by it, meaning that infrared heat targets cancer cells while leaving your healthy cells alone to keep living their best life. “In a nutshell, the hyperthermic effects of infrared radiation are only harmful to malignant cells […] Dr. Sahni told us that normal healthy cells are essentially immune to infrared radiation, while cancer cells are hyperthermically challenged: ‘[…] by exposing your body to that heat, you’re selectively killing or eradicating those less viable cells, those cancer cells, without hurting your normal cells. And so a far infrared sauna is useful because it can help you sweat, excrete toxins, and in theory, eliminate cancer cells which can’t survive the heat’” .
So to recap, while a steam room or traditional sauna will help you detox chemicals and toxins by increasing the amount you sweat, infrared saunas will have more beneficial effects because they achieve a deeper, more effective detox. They also target cancer cells specifically, weakening their walls and even killing young cells, while leaving healthy cells alone. For these reasons, it is a prudent idea to add infrared saunas to your healing and prevention protocol. And you don’t have to have a lot of space or break the bank!
I have a lovely little collapsible sauna that has low-EMF emissions and folds up to store away easily in our apartment. Mine is by Blue Wave and I got it from Costco. Unfortunately, it isn’t available there anymore, but I found a similar one on Amazon with a good overall rating. This one and mine are both made from polyester, so if you are sensitive to synthetic fabrics (and have enough space for it), you may want to spring for a wooden sauna; however, these are at least 8-10x the price of the portable models. If this does fit your budget though, Sun Stream is the company you will want to check out, and make sure you opt for the addition of near infrared panels. On that note, it’s also important to mention that the Amazon sauna as well as the one I have use only far infrared waves, which don’t penetrate the body as deeply. You will still benefit, but for the full effects, you will want to opt for a full-spectrum sauna that uses both far and near waves, if your budget allows. They are much more expensive, but if you do have more in your budget, the Synergy Sauna is a great choice for a portable version. Made from bamboo fabric and using both near and far infrared, this is the one on my wishlist!
Remember, cancer is a team sport; I’ve always got your back, so feel free to reach out with any questions about my experience with infrared saunas or any other area of my integrative healing experience by commenting below or reaching out to me through my Contact Me page 🙂
Happy healing ❤️
- “The Capacity of Toxic Agents to Compromise the Immune System (Biologic Markers of Immunosuppression)”
- “6 Ways Saunas Help Fight Cancer”
- “Non-thermal Effects of Far-Infrared Ray(FIR) on Human Hepatocellular Carcinoma Cells HepG2 and their Tumors”
- “Infrared Sauna Benefits for Cancer & Other Healing – What You Need to Know”