July 25, 2011
Not only is having a green thumb a great way to stay healthier and happier, but new research shows it can actually protect you from cancer.
Noted cancer treatment and research center M.D. Anderson, at the University of Texas, found in a study that time spent gardening once or twice a week can reduce the risk of cancer by 50 percent in lifelong nonsmokers. Moreover, researchers found, the same level of gardening activity by former smokers can reduce cancer risk by as much as 40 percent.
And while researchers said they weren’t exactly sure if gardening reduced the incidence of cancer more than other physical activities, they did find that it was the most commonly shared trait among the study’s participants.
The cancer-prevention benefits of gardening are also echoed by the American Institute of Cancer Research, which said that gardening is a physical activity that not only helps prevent cancer but also contributes to overall health and endurance.
People who garden tend to eat better food – food that is untainted by chemicals and poisons and food that is much tastier than what you’re used to buying in a supermarket.
Along those lines, gardening means exposure to the sun and its known vitamin D-supplying qualities that have been linked to the prevention of some cancers and a wide variety of other illnesses and diseases.
In fact, along the lines of exposure to the sun, scientists now believe that exposure can actually help prevent skin cancer because sunlight exposure helps in the body’s manufacture of vitamin D, a cancer-stunting agent in its own right.
“Melanoma (skin cancer) patients tend to avoid the sun as sunburn is known to increase the risk of melanoma. We use sunshine to make vitamin D in the skin, so melanoma patients’ levels of vitamin D may be especially low,” said Prof. Julia Newton Bishop of the Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine, and lead author of a recent study which found that higher levels of vitamin D were linked with better skin cancer survival odds.
Another reason why gardening may contain some anti-cancer, better health qualities, is because contact with soil, and the nutrients it supplies our garden-grown fruits and vegetables, tends to be good for us as well.
Finally, home-grown vegetables also contain anti-cancer nutrients and flavonols that can decrease certain cancers, like pancreatic cancer.
You may have thought you didn’t have a thumb that was green enough to be able to grow your own food, but based on continuing research that verifies the healthy, cancer-busting qualities of such a wonderful, self-fulfilling activity, doesn’t learning how sound like a fantastic opportunity to stay healthy?