Gardening May Help Reduce Cancer Risk


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Results from a randomized controlled trial show that participating in a community gardening program indirectly reduces cancer risk by increasing fiber intake, increasing physical activity, and reducing stress and anxiety. indicates a possibility.

“Nature-based, socially-supported neighborhood community activities that connect people to their gardens help people live active, healthy lives, reduce stress and anxiety, prevent disease and promote good health.” It helps us make the changes we need to support all the key elements of our journey to success,” said Jill Litt. A professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado Boulder said: Inside precision medicine.

Litt and her team conducted the first randomized controlled trial of community gardening from 2017-2019, funded by the American Cancer Society. In total, her 291 non-gardening participants participated in the study. They were all on waiting lists for community gardens in Denver and Aurora, with an average age of 42 for her. Over a third of them are Hispanic, and more than half come from low-income families.

In May of each recruitment wave, after the last spring frost, half of the participants were assigned to a community gardening group and the other half to a control group who were asked to wait one year before beginning gardening. assigned.

Gardening group participants received free community gardening plots, seeds and seedlings, and an introductory gardening course through nonprofit Denver Urban Gardens and research partners. Participants in both groups completed nutritional intake and mental health surveys, underwent physical measurements, and wore activity monitors in the spring, fall, and winter.

Reported by Litt and co-authors Lancet Planet Health By fall, individuals in the gardening group were eating an average of 1.4 g more fiber per day than individuals in the control group. This is an increase of about 7%.

The estimated average fiber intake for US adults is 15.9 g per day, which is well below the recommended intake of at least 25 to 38 g per day, researchers report. The 1.4 g increase was not far from the 2.0 g increase observed in studies examining the pooled effects of interventions to promote healthy eating on dietary fiber consumption.

“Each extra gram of fiber can have a significant positive impact on your health,” says co-author James Herbert, director of the University of South Carolina’s Cancer Prevention and Control Program.

Dietary fiber “is important from a disease prevention and health promotion perspective because it has a profound effect on inflammatory and immune responses,” Litt said.

She added: Increasing the amount of fiber reduces inflammation and reduces the risk of metabolic dysregulation, which has implications for many chronic diseases.

But the study wasn’t specifically focused on nutrition, and the researchers didn’t offer any health advice. I think as people spend more time in the garden, they’ll increase their fiber intake as they learn how to garden and what to do with the produce they grow,” Litt said.

The gardening group also increased their moderate-to-vigorous physical activity levels by approximately 6 minutes per day and 42 minutes per week compared to the control group.

“Most people do not meet national and international guidelines for active living. Adding 42 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity is almost 30% of the recommended 150 minutes of this type of physical activity. Equivalent,” said Litt.

She also pointed out that lack of exercise is an important risk factor for chronic diseases, including cancer. “More physical activity is important for physical and mental health because it reduces inflammation, improves immune system function, improves metabolism, prevents obesity and helps control weight. It can also prevent high blood levels of insulin, which can increase the risk of cancer and colon cancer.”

Finally, the researchers observed that participants in the gardening group reported a greater reduction in both perceived stress and anxiety from spring through fall than the control group.

Importantly, this study found that inexperience with gardening was not a barrier to success, and that race, ethnicity, age, or gender did not alter the impact, suggesting that community gardens are more suitable for people from different backgrounds and situations. We have shown that it can be a solution.

A researcher at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, Litt believes her findings highlight the importance of increasing access and interest in initiatives such as community gardening.

“Gardens, like playgrounds, public squares, and other aspects of a community’s social infrastructure, should be recognized as primary and permanent natural spaces,” she said. Ensuring access to reliable water supplies can be achieved through planning tools such as master and neighborhood planning, zoning ordinances, long-term land leases, and working with local utilities such as public water and wastewater utilities. “

“Additionally, local and state health departments can serve as key partners in ensuring that soils are safe and well managed. , partnerships with local and regional foundations are essential to ensure that resources are available to support garden organizations to maintain.”



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