Are Saunas, Laxatives Safe for Weight Loss?

Wednesday, 11 Jun 2014 10:01 AM

By Peter Hibberd, M.D.

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Question: My grandson is a boxer and competes in tournaments (he's pretty good!). But he uses laxatives and the sauna to lose weight, so he makes his weight class. Is it dangerous for a 14-year-old to do this?  His coach says all the kids do it and he has never seen a problem.

Dr. Hibberd's answer:
 
It is dangerous to combine laxative use with saunas. Dehydration is very stressful on our organ systems, and unnecessarily stresses our immune system in addition. This is a sure way to invite a health disaster and retard normal muscle and bone growth and development.
 
This coach's behavior is abusive. It could lead to health problems in your grandson that might not be recognized until later. It could stunt his growth or lead to other disorders by messing up his electrolyte balance.
 
You should tell the coach stop doing this and report him to his supervisors and professional associations if the practice continues. One might debate whether engaging in this practice one time is OK, but this activity repeated is a sure-fire way to invite adverse health consequences
 

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