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Robinson, Donald Keith
Health promotion in the elderly: changes in endocrine function after three months of modern or traditional treatment

Order No. 9933980

Research shows that improved health in older age is possible through stress reduction and modifications in lifestyle, diet and exercise. In this prospective, randomized, clinical intervention study, healthy, independent, community-dwelling elderly subjects (65 years or older) were randomly assigned to one of two health promotion programs or to a usual-care control group.

The traditional health promotion program, the Maharishi Vedic Approach to Health (MVAH), included the Transcendental Meditation (TM) program and the herbal food supplement Maharishi Amrit Kalash (MAK). The modern health promotion program (MHP) included current diet and exercise practices recommended by national health organizations. Each group (n = 55) was tested at baseline and at three months for three important age- and health-related hormones: insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I), dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS), and melatonin (using the urinary metabolite 6-sulphatoxymelatonin, or 6-SM). Taking into account 60 health- and hormone-relevant outcome variables, ANCOVAs were performed on three-month pretest-to-posttest changes, comparing treatment groups and controls. There were no significant differences across groups for DHEAS and 6-SM at posttest. However, IGF-I at posttest was significantly higher in the MHP group (12.55 ± 4.83 ng/ml change) than in the MVAH group (–5.07 ± 5.47 ng/ml change; p = 0.019). MHP women also increased significantly in IGF-I (12.73 ± 6.27 ng/ml change) compared to a decrease in MVAH women (–11.92 ± 6.37 ng/mI change; p < 0.009). Omitting women on estrogen replacement therapy eliminated most treatment effects in MHP women (0.19 ± 7.90 ng/ml change) while revealing an even larger decrease in IGF-I in the MVAH women (–16.00 ± 7.76 ng/ml change), and a slight increase in controls (2.74 ± 7.52 ng/ml change) (MVAH < controls, p = 0.085, trend). Associations of high-normal IGF-I levels with increased incidence of colon cancer in men, prostate cancer, breast cancer, and recurrence of breast cancer as well as decreased survival times have been reported.

Thus, the significant three-month reduction of IGF-I in MVAH women may partially explain the previously reported reduced cancer mortality and cancer hospitalization associated with the TM program and MAK. The findings of high posttest IGF-I in MHP men, and the apparent enhancing effect of estrogens on IGF-I in MHP women, raise concerns about MHP practices and estrogen replacement efficacy with respect to IGF-I-related cancer risk. Source: DAI, 60, no. 06B (1999): p. 2601

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