Hot tub therapy helps diabetics, study suggests

BOSTON, (Reuters) - Help for the more than 15 million North Americans with diabetes may be as close as the nearest hot tub.

A small pilot study reported in today's New England Journal of Medicine suggests that soaking in a hot tub for 30 minutes a day for a three week period can reduce blood sugar levels by 13 per cent.

Dr. Philip Hooper of McKee Medical Centre in Loveland, Colo., experimented with the hot tub therapy in hopes that it would mimic the effects of excercise, which is already known to reduce the need for insulin.

Hooper said, "results suggest that hot tub therapy should be further evaluated as a therapy for patients with Type 2 diabetes mellitus. It may be especially helpful for patients who are unable to exercise."

But the treatment has its drawbacks. Patients had to be routinely helped from the tub when the water exceeded 40 C because they became dizzy after they stepped out of the tub and tried to stand. For this reason, the treatment should not be attempted without supervision, according to the Canadian Diabetes Association.

- Copyright Reuters Limited 1999