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NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Greenness Around Homes Linked to Lower Mortality

Woman in field stretches arms wide and tilts head back.

Women live longer in areas with more green vegetation, says new NIEHS-funded research.

Women live longer in areas with more green vegetation, according to new research funded by NIEHS. Women with the highest levels of vegetation, or greenness, near their homes had a 12 percent lower death rate compared to women with the lowest levels of vegetation near their homes. The results were published Apr. 14 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

The researchers found the biggest differences in death rates from kidney disease, respiratory disease and cancer. The scientists also explored how an environment with trees, shrubs and plants might lower mortality rates. They showed that improved mental health and social engagement are the strongest factors, while increased physical activity and reduced air pollution also contribute.

“It is important to know that trees and plants provide health benefits in our communities, as well as beauty,” said NIEHS director Dr. Linda Birnbaum. “The finding of reduced mortality suggests that vegetation may be important to health in a broad range of ways.”

The study examined greenness around the homes of 108,630 women in the long-term Nurses’ Health Study. The scientists consistently found lower mortality rates in women as levels of trees and plants increased around their homes. This trend was seen for separate causes of death, as well as when all causes were combined.

The NIH Record

The NIH Record, founded in 1949, is the biweekly newsletter for employees of the National Institutes of Health.

Published 25 times each year, it comes out on payday Fridays.

Associate Editor: Carla Garnett
Carla.Garnett@nih.gov

Staff Writers:

Eric Bock
Eric.Bock@nih.gov

Dana Talesnik
Dana.Talesnik@nih.gov

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