Authors: Meditate, prolong your life

DesMoines Register/May 2, 2005
By Tony Leys

Transcendental Meditation supporters are publishing a study today claiming their technique significantly cuts death rates among elderly people who tried it.

The article is being published in the American Journal of Cardiology, a medical journal unaffiliated with the movement. The study is being touted nationwide by meditation practitioners, but its conclusions are raising questions among other doctors.

Most of the article's authors are at the Maharishi University of Management in the southern Iowa town of Fairfield, which is a stronghold of the Transcendental Meditation movement.

The authors looked at two earlier studies of 202 older people, 56 of whom were asked to try Transcendental Meditation. The rest either tried other relaxation techniques or were simply given health information. The researchers checked government death records to see how many of the participants had died up to 18 years later, and the causes of death.

They concluded that those who learned Transcendental Meditation had a 23 percent smaller chance of dying of any cause, a 30 percent decreased risk of dying of heart trouble, and a 49 percent decreased risk of dying of cancer, the article says.

"People who are interested in something that's scientifically proven should pay attention to this," said Dr. Robert Schneider, the paper's lead author. He practices Transcendental Meditation and works for the university in Fairfield.

The article was questioned last week by Dr. Ted Gansler, medical content director for the American Cancer Society.

Gansler said the number of people studied is too small to lead to any conclusions about cancer death rates. He also said it didn't appear to consider whether the people who tried Transcendental Meditation smoked or had other risk factors.

Schneider said he hoped the article results in a larger study of meditation's health effects.

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