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Unlocking nature’s secret: NC State study links green spaces to protective DNA segments, telomeres. Dive deep into how nature can impact cellular age.

Dipping your toes into nature, be it in the heart of the wilderness, a leisurely park stroll, or just basking in your garden, can boost your well-being. This isn’t just a feeling; it's scientifically backed.

North Carolina State University (NC State) recently shared a press release detailing a study conducted by an international team of experts. The study reveals that green spaces – think of parks, gardens, and public areas adorned with vegetation – positively influence a crucial genetic marker associated with stress exposure. 

However, there's a caveat: the benefits of these green spaces aren't sufficient to counteract broader environmental issues like systemic racism.

Elaborating on the intricate connections, the study's authors explain, “The exposome, reflecting the range of environmental exposures individuals encounter throughout their life, can influence a variety of health outcomes and can play a role in how the environment impacts our genes.” One vital genetic structure impacted is "telomeres," segments of DNA located at chromosome ends. They serve as protective barriers, but with every cell division, they trim a bit. Once too short, the cell can't divide, leading to its death.

Lead author Scott Ogletree, who previously served as a postdoctoral researcher at NC State’s Center for Geospatial Analytics, emphasized the significance of telomeres. “This makes telomeres important markers of biological age, or how worn down our cells are,” he clarified. “And we know that many variables — such as stress — can influence how quickly our telomeres wear down.” Ogletree is now imparting knowledge at the University of Edinburgh as a professor of landscape and well-being.

The findings of the study, titled “The relationship between greenspace exposure and telomere length in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey,” can be accessed in the journal 'Science of the Total Environment'.

Aaron Hipp, study co-author and professor at NC State, shared, “This study was an attempt to quantify the beneficial impacts of greenspace at the cellular level, and the extent to which greenspace can help to offset environmental harms.”

The team utilized data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) in their research.

Samira is an Electronics and Communications Engineer by profession, but deep inside, her heart is a nomad! She's a state champion debater, a public speaker, a scriptwriter, a theatre actress, but most importantly — A GREEN CITIZEN! She thinks of herself as a storyteller who thrives on enjoying the life at fullest and telling everyone the tales of life.

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