Cancer is a devastating disease that affects millions of people worldwide. While there is still much to be learned about cancer and its treatment, researchers have been studying how different factors, such as temperature, affect cancer cells. One such factor is heat, which has been found to have a complex relationship with cancer cells.
Heat therapy, also known as hyperthermia, has been used for centuries to treat a wide range of ailments. Heat therapy works by increasing the body's temperature, which in turn can lead to the destruction of cancer cells. While heat therapy is not a standalone treatment for cancer, it is often used in conjunction with other treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Saunas and steam showers are two common types of heat therapy that people use to help manage the symptoms of cancer. While both types of heat therapy involve exposing the body to high temperatures, they work in slightly different ways.
A sauna is a small room or building that is heated to a high temperature, typically between 150°F and 195°F. A dry saunas humidity level is low, unless it is a wet/dry sauna or traditional steam sauna that utilizes water splashed on hot rocks to create steam and humidity.
Steam showers are enclosed spaces that are filled with hot steam. The temperature in a steam shower is typically around 110°F to 120°F, but the humidity level is much higher than in a dry sauna.
So, how do cancer cells react to high temperatures, such as those found in a sauna or steam shower? The answer is complex and depends on several factors, including the type of cancer, the stage of the cancer, and the intensity and duration of the heat therapy.
Research has shown that some cancer cells are more sensitive to heat than others. For example, prostate cancer cells have been found to be particularly sensitive to heat, while other types of cancer, such as breast cancer, may be less sensitive. The stage of the cancer may also play a role in how sensitive the cancer cells are to heat therapy.
Cancer cells and tumors have a different metabolic activity compared to normal cells. They tend to consume glucose more rapidly and produce more lactic acid, which creates an acidic environment around the tumor. This acidic environment can make the cancer cells more sensitive to heat.
When exposed to high temperatures, cancer cells and tumors cannot tolerate the heat because it disrupts their metabolism and cellular functions. The heat can also cause damage to their DNA and proteins, leading to cell death.
Cancer cells also have a reduced ability to dissipate heat, which means they can quickly reach their thermal limits and become damaged or destroyed when exposed to high temperatures.
Intensity and Duration
The intensity and duration of the heat therapy are also important factors to consider. While moderate heat therapy may not have a significant impact on cancer cells, high-intensity heat therapy has been shown to damage cancer cells and make them more vulnerable to other types of treatment, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
One way that heat therapy can damage cancer cells is by disrupting their cell membranes. Cancer cells have a higher temperature threshold than healthy cells, which means that they can withstand higher temperatures for longer periods of time. However, if the temperature is raised high enough, it can cause damage to the cancer cell's membrane, which can lead to cell death.
Another way that heat therapy can affect cancer cells is by changing the tumor microenvironment. Heat therapy can cause blood vessels to dilate, which can increase blood flow to the tumor. This increased blood flow can improve the delivery of chemotherapy drugs and oxygen to the tumor, which can improve the effectiveness of these treatments.
While heat therapy is not a standalone treatment for cancer, it can be a useful tool in conjunction with other treatments. Saunas and steam showers are two common types of heat therapy that people use to help manage the symptoms of cancer.
Although the relationship between cancer cells and high temperatures is complex, research has shown that high-intensity heat therapy can damage cancer cells and make them more vulnerable to other types of treatment. However, it is important to note that heat therapy should only be used under the supervision of a medical professional, as it can have side effects and may not be appropriate for everyone.
If you have any medical condition at all, it is always advisable to consult your physician about the use of a sauna or steam shower with high temperatures.
To learn more about infrared saunas for home treatment, see our collection of infrared saunas here.
To learn more about steam saunas for your home, see our collection of steam saunas here.
To see steam showers that may what you want for your home, see our steam showers here.