A Life Saving Sweat
The Finns have known for centuries that saunas are good for cleansing the mind and body. A new study suggests they could also be life saving. Researchers in Finland – from where the word “sauna” originates – tracked the habits of some 2,300 middle-aged men over a 20-year period. They found that those who took a sauna more often and for longer periods of time significantly reduced their chances of dying from heart disease. After taking into account the participants’ physical health, smoking and alcohol habits, and socioeconomic status, the researchers found that men who went to the sauna four to seven times a week reduced their risk of dying from a sudden cardiac arrest by 63 percent, compared with men who went just once a week. And those who spent more than 19 minutes in the sauna reduced their mortality risk by 52 percent. Frequent sauna bathers also lowered their risk of coronary heart disease by 48 percent and their risk of cardiovascular disease by 50 percent. The reason, the researchers suggested, is that the intense heat inside saunas increases a person’s heart rate to the same pace as physical exercise, resulting in lower blood pressure and improved heart function. The findings only apply to Finnish-style saunas, which, at 176 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit, tend to be hotter than your average gym steam room.
Obama’s Tax Proposal: Not An Amnesty, But Pretty Close
In his 2016 budget proposal, U.S. President Barack Obama proposed a one-time tax on earnings that U.S. companies have parked overseas. That’s no small pile: among S&P 500 companies, the amount has climbed from less than $500 billion in 2005 to $2.1 trillion in 2014. Obama’s proposed tax would mean a total hit of about $213 billion on those trillions, only 40 percent of what they would pay under current tax rates if they brought the money home, according to Credit Suisse. Alas, the proposal is unlikely to pass Congress unless it’s part of a larger tax reform.
Baselworld: Home of the $40 Million Watch
There are always lots of surprises for watch lovers at Baselworld, which opened in Switzerland last week. This year, London-based Graff Diamonds is offering a $40 million watch called Fascination. It’s not the most expensive watch ever sold (last year, Graff exhibited a $55 million timepiece called Hallucination), but it does have 152.96 carats of white diamonds, including a 38.13-carat pear-shaped rock at the center that can be interchanged for a diamond watch face. Other luxury watchmakers have also launched jaw-dropping timepieces at the weeklong event that attracts 1,500 brands from around the world. Rolex, for example, revealed a new version of its nautical Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master wristwatch that comes in black or 18-carat rose gold, and is mounted on the Rolex-patented Oysterflex bracelet, a rubbery-looking strap that has the resistance of metal. After celebrating its 175th anniversary last year, Patek Philippe brought more than 30 new designs to this year’s extravaganza, including the elegant 5073P-010 men’s platinum grand complication. That piece features 103 baguette diamonds around the dial and a hand-stitched alligator strap set with 42 baguette diamonds.
These articles first appeared in The Financialist in March 2015
JENS ERIK GOULD
Jens Erik Gould is a political, business and entertainment writer and editor who has reported from a dozen countries for media outlets including The New York Times, National Public Radio and Bloomberg News.