Great News for Nature Lovers

August 30, 2016 Brigham and Women's Hospital

Adult Woman Enjoying Time with Pet Dog

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that women residing in greener areas have a lower mortality rate.

Living in an area with lots of trees and other plants may actually lead to a longer life. In a recent study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Channing Division of Network Medicine and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that women residing in greener areas had a lower mortality rate.

The researchers used satellite imagery to rank the cumulative average greenness of the residential locations of more than 100,000 women participating in the Nurses’ Health Study. They found that those women residing in the greenest areas had a 12 percent lower rate of non-accidental mortality compared to those women residing in areas with the least amount of vegetation. The study adjusted for mortality risk factors, such as age, race, smoking, and individual- and area-level socioeconomic status. Findings were consistent across all regions of the United States, as well as in urban and rural areas.

Those women living in the greenest areas also had a 34 percent lower rate of respiratory disease-related death, a 41 percent lower rate of kidney-disease mortality, and a 13 percent lower rate of cancer mortality compared with women living in the least green areas.

“Vegetation may counter some of the negative effects of air pollution, noise, and extreme heat,” said the study’s corresponding author, Dr. Francine Laden. “The other major benefits from living in green, natural environments may include greater physical activity and social interaction and lower levels of stress. The bottom line is that planting vegetation and spending more time in areas with many trees and plants may improve your health and longevity.”

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-Jessica F.

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