Gardening may help reduce cancer risk

AGE FOTOSTOCK

Here's another resolution to add to your list for 2023 - get into the garden!

According to new research from the University of Colorado at Boulder, growing fruit, vegetables, and flowers has many benefits - from easing stress to reducing the risk of developing cancer and chronic diseases.

"These findings provide concrete evidence that community gardening could play an important role in preventing cancer, chronic diseases and mental health disorders," said senior author Jill Litt. "No matter where you go, people say there's just something about gardening that makes them feel better."

Following a randomised, controlled trial of over 290 adults with an average age of 41, the team reported that participants increased their physical activity levels by about 42 minutes per week. Public health agencies in the U.S. recommend at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week.

Gardeners saw stress and anxiety levels decrease, and interestingly, they also ate more fibre.

And there are many social benefits to taking up the hobby too.

"Even if you come to the garden looking to grow your food on your own in a quiet place, you start to look at your neighbour's plot and share techniques and recipes, and over time relationships bloom," commented Litt, noting that while gardening alone is good for you, joining a community setting may have additional benefits. "It's not just about the fruits and vegetables. It's also about being in a natural space outdoors together with others."

The findings have been published in Lancet Planetary Health.