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Green neighborhood lowers breast cancer risk

Green neighborhood lowers breast cancer risk
Living in the vicinity of parks, gardens and other urban green spaces may reduce the risk of breast cancer. Spanish researchers report this a study they have published in the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health. However, living in the vicinity of agricultural areas does not reduce breast cancer risk, but increases it.

The researchers, who were affiliated with the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, compared the data of 1738 Spanish women with breast cancer with those of 1900 women without the disease.

Women who lived less than 300 meters away from a park or another green urban space had about 35 percent less chance of breast cancer than women who did not live in the vicinity of green. The researchers corrected for, among other things, age, income and education.

When the researchers brushed away the effects of physical exercise and air pollution the protective effect of green was still standing. So, women who lived in a green neigborhood didn't breath cleaner air or were more physically active than women who did not live in a green neighborhood.

Green neighborhood lowers breast cancer risk

Women who lived in the vicinity of agricultural areas were not protected against breast cancer. They even had a higher risk than women who did not live near agricultural zones.

The researchers did not distinguish between areas where regular farmers were active and agricultural areas that were the land was used by organic farmers.

"We found a reduced risk of breast cancer among women living in closer to urban green spaces", first author Cristina O'Callaghan-Gordo says in a press release. [, August 21, 2018] "By contrast, women living closer to agricultural areas, had a risk higher. This finding suggests, that the association between green space and a risk of breast cancer is dependent on the land use."

"We found a linear correlation between distance from green spaces and breast cancer risk", resrach leader Mark Nieuwenhuijsen says. "In other words, the risk of breast cancer in the population declines, the closer their residence is to an urban green space."

"These findings highlight the importance of natural spaces for our health and show why green spaces are an essential component of our urban environment, not just in the form of isolated areas but as a connective network linking the whole urban area and benefitting all its inhabitants."

"We still don't know which characteristics of natural spaces are the most beneficial and nor do we understand the mechanisms underpinning these beneficial health impacts", says co-author Manolis Kogevinas. "Other studies have shown that the mechanisms that might explain the health benefits of green spaces include higher levels of physical activity in the population and a reduction in air pollution, an environmental hazard clearly linked to the onset of cancer. However, we did not observe these associations."

"We believe that other mechanisms - including lower levels of stress among people living close to green spaces - could play a role, but more research is needed to confirm this hypothesis."

Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2018 Aug 1. pii: S1438-4639(18)30131-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2018.07.014. [Epub ahead of print].

Trees protect against cancer 10.07.2012

Cancer Prevention
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