Transcendental meditation apparently reduces the death rate among the elderly and prolongs life, according to a study published in the American Journal of Cardiology.

Researchers studied 203 men and women with an average age of 71 and a control group, all with slightly elevated blood pressures.

The study group participated in a transcendental meditation program, muscle relaxation, behavioral techniques and health education, over an 18-year period -- and boy, did the meditation help.

The transcendental meditation group had a 23 percent reduction in death from all causes, a 30 percent reduction in deaths from cardiovascular diseases and a 49 percent reduction in the death rate from cancer.

How come?

Well, meditation reduces the risk factors for diseases like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke and even hardening of the arteries.

Short-term reduction in risk factors apparently leads to a longer, healthier life.