Numerous articles on popular health topics mention studies looking at how to prevent cancer. But these results are surprising.
A new study published in The Lancet Planetary Health earlier this month reported that community gardening has a positive effect on the adult population. The study found that gardening can help reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.
According to the research team Nature-based community interventions such as community gardening can mitigate risk factors for noncommunicable and chronic diseases such as unhealthy diet, lack of exercise and social isolation.
Gardeners eat more fiber, exercise more
In the first-ever randomized controlled trial of community gardening, researchers found that those who gardened with others ate more fiber and exercised more. Her stress and anxiety levels dropped significantly.
For the study, the team interviewed 493 adults between January 1, 2017 and June 15, 2019. To research and collect data, 291 completed baseline measurements and were randomly divided into two groups – intervention and control.
The intervention group was tasked with doing community gardening using an introductory gardening class through the Denver Urban Gardens Program. But the control group had to wait a year to start gardening. Participants wore activity monitors throughout the study. They also had regular body measurements and answered regular surveys about their dietary intake and mental health.
After analyzing the data, The team reported that community gardeners could offer a “nature-based solution” to improve well-being and reduce risk factors for cancer and other chronic diseases in adults.
Gardening can play an important role in cancer prevention
Senior Editor Professor Jill Litt, an expert in Boulder’s Department of Environmental Studies, said these results provide solid evidence that community gardening can play an important role in preventing cancer, chronic disease and mental disorders. Litt, who is also a researcher at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, said that in many places people say there’s something about gardening that makes them feel better.
Litt hopes health experts, policymakers and urban planners will review their findings and consider creating community gardens and other spaces that encourage more people to gather and enjoy the great outdoors together.