Cold Showers Raise NAD+, Activate the Sirtuins, and Improve Cancer Survival by Lowering Blood Glucose


by Nils Osmar. Dec. 16, 2022 Medical Disclaimer

Several studies have shown that cold exposure can raise NAD+ levels and activate the sirtuin (survival) genes.

For this reason, many people in the anti-aging community are taking cold showers or ice baths hoping for a life extending or anti-aging benefit.  (See study: NAD+ /sirtuin metabolism is enhanced in response to cold-induced changes in lipid metabolism in mouse liver).

Cold shock proteins have also been found to promote survival against a number of diseases. See study: Role of Heat Shock Proteins in Protection from and Pathogenesis of Infectious Diseases

A more recent (2022) study described in this article suggests an additional benefit, and a surprising mechanism. (See article: Cold exposure could make it harder for cancer cells to grow, mice study shows.)

From the article:

Turning down the thermostat seems to make it harder for cancer cells to grow, according to a study in mice by researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. 

The study, published in the journal Nature, found that chilly temperatures activate heat-producing brown fat that consumes the sugars the tumors need to thrive. 

Similar metabolic mechanisms were found in a cancer patient exposed to a lowered room temperature….

The study compared tumor growth and survival rates in mice with various types of cancer, including colorectal, breast and pancreatic cancers, when exposed to cold versus warm living conditions. 

Mice acclimatized to temperatures of 4 degrees Celsius had significantly slower tumor growth and lived nearly twice as long compared with mice in rooms of 30 degrees Celsius.

My thoughts and experience

According to the studies described above, cold exposure has three clearly defined benefits:

  1. It activates cold shock proteins, which rally our defenses against disease.
  2. It slows the growth of cancer, by the novel mechanism of increasing brown fat, which lowers our blood glucose. ( If I had cancer, I would take cold showers, and also find other ways to reduce sugar.)
  3. It raises NAD+ levels and activates the sirtuin genes, which some researchers believe may result in life extension

Though I love the idea of cold showers for longevity, I find jumping right into a cold shower just doesn’t work for me.  So my version of cold showers, which I find much easier, is  take contrast showers, alternating between 3 minutes of hot (as hot as I can stand the water); 1 minute of icy cold; 3 minutes of hot; ending 3 minutes of cold. 

I feel cold during the (cold parts of the shower) but feel toasty right after. I find contrast showers to be an instant “cure” for respiratory infections like colds and influenza.

I also keep my house cool (55 degrees) at night. I do, though, warm the house to 67 degrees during the day. I would probably get more benefits if I lowered it to 65 degrees.

Not medical advice

This article is not intended as, and should not be taken as, medical advice. I’m not advising that people eat any particular diet or take any particular supplement(s), just reporting on what I’m doing. Supplements, like medications and other interventions, can have side effects; I would encourage people to research both possible benefits and side effects before starting on any supplementation regimen, and consult with a medical professional about any issues which might have a medical component.  See full Medical Disclaimer

This post is not intended as, and should not be taken as, medical advice. See full Medical Disclaimer

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