Gardening may help reduce cancer risk, boost mental health – Medical News Today

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New research suggests that gardening offers various health benefits, including a reduced risk of chronic diseases like cancer. Manu Prats/Stocksy

  • A new study shows that people who work in community gardens receive various wellness benefits that may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases like malignancy and can improve mental health.
  • The randomized controlled trial involved 145 people who never gardened before and tracked their physical and mental health during and after the growing season.
  • Participants consumed more fiber , got more exercise, and felt a lot more connected plus less anxious as a result associated with their local community gardening experience.

Participating in neighborhood gardening reduces the risk of developing serious illnesses, including cancer and psychological health disorders, according to the recent study.

Researchers at the particular University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder) have demonstrated that people get multiple health-promoting benefits from community gardening.

Gardeners increased their intake of dietary fiber by eating more fresh produce, got a lot more exercise tending a garden, and felt more connected socially, all of which are protective factors against cancer, mental health issues, and various persistent illnesses.

Previous observational studies have suggested that horticulture, in general, may deliver some of these benefits, but the CU Boulder study is the first randomized controlled test (RCT) investigating the benefit of growing plants, and local community gardening in particular.

The study is published within The Lancet Planetary Health .

The particular researchers recruited 291 adults who had not gardened before. Individuals averaged 41. 5 years of age, and 34% identified as Hispanic. Of the participants, 18% were male (52 participants), plus half came from lower-income households.

The researchers conducted three gardening waves spanning 1 year each and beginning in May, just after the last frost within Denver plus Aurora, CO, where the particular gardens had been located. Half of each wave’s individuals gardened, and half did not, serving as a control group.

Each participant received an introductory gardening course from Denver Urban Gardens and was allocated a standard, 10-square meter community garden plot, as well as seeds plus seedlings.

The same was offered to the control-group individuals as compensation for delaying their gardening for the particular course of the study.

Lead study author Jill S. Litt , Ph. D., professor associated with environmental studies at CU Boulder, told Medical News Today that each participant spent an average of about 90 minutes a week gardening and visited their garden at least twice during the particular week.

“We found that being new to gardening was not a barrier to being successful in gardening, because our research only included new gardeners, ” Dr. Litt said.

Researchers assessed participants’ wellness before the study and team assignment, from harvest time, and the following winter. People completed surveys regarding stress, anxiety, plus diet and wore thigh-mounted accelerometers for 7 days with each assessment.

In the study, the particular researchers discovered that landscapers consumed slightly more dietary fiber than the control group, although still below the particular recommended level of 25–38 grams per day. They also exercised approximately 5 minutes more at harvest time than the control group.

“I think it’s a great study, looking at just the logistics of how they did it, ” Rebecca Crane-Okada , Ph. Deb., R. N., advanced oncology nurse plus professor of oncology on St. John’s Cancer Institute in Santa Barbara, CA, not involved in the study, informed MNT . “It was a very complicated study in order to implement. ”

Dr . Litt said the research addressed an existing research gap since smaller observational studies suggesting a link to better health could not determine if horticulture led to a more healthy lifestyle or if it was the other way around.

She noted the study showed “that the holistic intervention such since community growing plants can affect multiple outcomes — fiber, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity — and psychosocial health — stress and anxiety — in an acceptable and affordable way, with regard to people of different social, economic, and demographic backgrounds. ”

Dr. Litt noted that gardening addresses multiple factors that are important for reducing the chance of chronic disease and promoting overall health.

According to Dr. Crane-Okada, community gardening provides a chance to address known “modifiable danger factors” regarding diseases such as:

Denise Dillon , Ph. D., associate professor associated with psychology at James Cook University in Singapore, was not involved within the study but has published previous study on the mental health benefits of neighborhood gardening.

“In our analysis, participants that engaged in community horticulture scored higher on personal subjective wellbeing and resilience than did participants who else gardened alone at home or even those who engaged in non-gardening, group outdoor activities, despite reporting similar levels of perceived tension. ”

– Denise Dillon, Ph. M., psychology professor

Doctor. Dillon added there’s “ample evidence from across a number associated with research paradigms to demonstrate advantages of direct exposure in order to natural environments for the purpose of restoration, whether physiological or psychological. ”

There are thousands of urban community gardens in the United States.

Portland, OR, for instance, has 4. 45 local community gardens per 1, 000 people , and such gardens are not restricted to temperate regions — St. Paul, MN, has the second-greatest density of neighborhood gardens in the U. H., with 3. 84 gardens per 1, 000 people.

Dr. Crane-Okada credited the benefits of community growing plants to becoming outside within nature plus fostering a connection to the particular earth. She noted that will physical activity is required to prepare, nurture, and harvest the garden and that being a part of a community benefits psychological well-being.

People who have been diagnosed with a chronic disease like malignancy can also benefit psychologically through time invested working in the community backyard, Dr. Crane-Okada said.

“The nature of gardening, usually outdoors, involves physical exercise, a focus on something outside oneself — hence can also be a mindful activity — might be done in community, as in this research, which can serve as a good additional social support, ” she concluded.

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