Can Gardening Help Lower the Risk of Cancer Relapse? This Urban Farm Says Yes

Ohio State University hosts a nurturing program for cancer survivors to improve their health simply by tending a garden

Nurturing the soul while tending the garden.

These five little words, “your cancer is in remission,” are the only words a cancer sufferer could ever want to hear. However, even if the cancer cells are eradicated, there is still a risk that the cancer could come back. An agricultural program at Ohio State University is trying to mitigate the risks of illness relapse with an experimental urban garden called Growing HOPE, according to Science Daily.From the outside looking in, the garden looks unremarkable. However, researchers at Ohio University believe that the simple and holistic act of tending to plants and crops can reduce a cancer survivor’s risk of relapse.

"After four months in our program, our survivors decreased their weight, fasting glucose, non-HDL cholesterol, and increased physical activity and skin carotenoids. In addition, they improved overall adherence to anti-cancer dietary patterns," said Dr. Colleen Spees, a researcher at the university’s health and rehabilitation center. "Not only do our survivors have weekly access to fresh fruits, herbs and vegetables, they learn why we recommend these cancer-fighting foods and how to safely prepare them. Participants also have access to nutrition experts both on and offsite that provide additional support and guidance."


Dr. Spees believes that lifestyle changes can improve the odds of a serious illness survivor staying healthy, even more so than traditional medicines. Cancer survivors in the program have access to around the clock dieticians, menu planners, and guest speakers, who teach the survivors which foods to eat to improve their health. Weeding the garden, Dr. Spees and her team believes, is the key to weeding out cancer risks.