Researcher Jill Litt, of the University of Colorado (CU) in Boulder, aims to establish that growing fruits and vegetables for own consumption can help those who perform that activity to prevent cancer.
Over the next three years and thanks to a $ 950,000 grant from the American Cancer Society (ACS), Litt and his colleagues will study the lives and health of 312 participants in the programs of the Denver Urban Gardens nonprofit organization ).
“We know from previous studies that gardeners have significantly higher levels of physical and mental health in self-assessments, but now we want to know why that is so.” “What is the mechanism?” Litt said in prepared remarks.
“If you grow your own fruits and vegetables and eat them when they are fresh, that is in itself something healthy,” he added.
Litt, a professor and environmental health researcher at the CU-Boulder School of Public Health, had already conducted a decade-long study of urban garden growers that concluded in 2011 that it provides physical and emotional benefits.
According to the study, this activity improves the neighborhood environment, encourages dialogue between different ethnic groups and offers fresh and natural foods.
Now, with this new study, Litt sets out to scientifically establish the connection between working in small gardens and preventing cancer.
Researchers will measure body mass, fruit and vegetable intake, physical activity level, emotional stress level, and overall health parameters of each of these gardeners before planting, at harvest time, and six months later.
Such analyzes will serve to confirm whether humans can benefit from the health point of view of benign microorganisms present in fertile soil, as with animals.
These microorganisms, through the intestinal flora, could reduce the body inflammations and the emotional tensions, which, in the human beings, helps to prevent the cancer, according to the assumptions of the study.
In their own studies Litt found that urban gardeners consume more fruits and vegetables than non-gardeners (5.7 servings daily versus 3.9), have a lower body mass index (24.2 vs 27.3) and enjoy better physical and mental health (2.6 days a month with health problems versus 6.2 days).
“Some people do not understand it, but orchard farming is totally connected to public health,” he said.