Breast cancer risk lower for women living near urban green spaces

BARCELONA — Many studies tout the benefits of living near city parks and foliage-filled areas, and now research shows it can be especially beneficial to women. A study by Spanish researchers found that the risk of developing breast cancer in women was lower for those who lived closer to urban green spaces than others.

Researchers from study the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) say these green spaces include parks, gardens, walking paths, and other land set aside for natural beauty and outside enjoyment, as well as agricultural areas. The study involved more than 3,600 women living in ten different Spanish provinces.

Previous research suggested living close to urban green spaces improved overall health, particularly mental health, contributing to slower cognitive decline.

The authors used data from a Spanish study to analyze 1,738 breast cancer patients. They compared that data with data from 1,900 other participants with no history of breast cancer.

The researchers, led by first author Cristina O’Callaghan-Gordo of ISGlobal, determined the participants’ lifestyle factors, socioeconomic level, lifetime residential history, and levels of physical activity with in-person interviews. The researchers found each participant’s proximity to urban green spaces or agricultural land, as well as pollution levels and population density, by geo-coding the participants’ addresses.

“We found a reduced risk of breast cancer among women living in closer to
urban green spaces. By contrast, women living closer to agricultural areas, had a [higher risk],” says O’Callaghan-Gordo in a statement. “[These] findings suggests that the association between green space and a risk of breast cancer is dependent on the land use.”

The study was published in the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health.

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