Cold Showers Raise NAD+ Levels and Improve Cancer Survival by Lowering Blood Glucose

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by Nils Osmar. Updated Feb. 14, 2024 Medical Disclaimer

Several studies have found 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 some infectious diseases. See study: Role of Heat Shock Proteins in Protection from and Pathogenesis of Infectious Diseases. And a more recent (2022) study described in this article suggests they also have an anti-cancer benefit.

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.

Three mechanisms

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

Cold showers or contrast showers

For those who find daily cold showers a bridge too far, taking contrast showers is one alternative.  When taking a contrast shower, I alternating between three minutes of hot (as hot as I can stand the water); one or two minutes of icy cold (as cold as the water will go); three more minutes of hot; ending with three more 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 F) at night, and usually keep it around 65 degrees F in the daytime.

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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