Simply spending time in nature shows benefits both for body terrain factors linked to cancer and for reducing cancer risk. It may also help with symptoms common among people with cancer.

Time in nature at a glance

Time in nature can be as simple and spontaneous as a walk in a park or on a beach. Or it can be a more planned practice such as hiking or camping. Forest bathing was first named in Japan, where shinrin-yokuforest bathing—has become a regular practice and is gaining attention from medical organizations. It involves not only walking in a forested area, but also practicing mindfulness—walking aimlessly and slowly, savoring the sounds, smells, and sights of nature and letting the forest in.1Getting back to nature: how forest bathing can make us feel better. The Guardian. June 8, 2019. Viewed April 25, 2022.

Evidence for benefits from forest bathing among people with cancer is so far limited to a few studies showing lower risk of cancer, benefits for body terrain factors linked to cancer, and very initial benefit for some side effects. However, much more evidence shows benefits for symptoms not specifically among people with cancer. Even time seeing nature through a window, or listening to nature sounds can bring benefits. Because it is low-cost, generally low-risk, and accessible for most people, time in nature could be a part of many people’s lifestyle choices to reduce cancer’s impacts. 

CancerChoices ratings for time in nature

We rate time in nature or forest bathing on seven attributes, with 0 the lowest rating and 5 the highest.

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0

Treating cancer

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2

Optimizing your body terrain

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2

Managing side effects and promoting wellness

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3

Reducing cancer risk

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2

Use by integrative oncology experts

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4

Safety

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5

Affordability and access

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Authors

Nancy Hepp, MS

Lead Researcher and Program Manager
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Ms. Hepp is a researcher and communicator who has been writing and editing educational content on varied health topics for more than 20 years. She serves as lead researcher, program manager, and writer for CancerChoices. Her graduate work in research and cognitive psychology, her master’s degree in instructional design, and her certificate in web design have all guided her in writing and presenting information for a wide variety of audiences and uses. Nancy’s service as faculty development coordinator in the Department of Family Medicine at Wright State University also provided experience in medical research, plus insights into medical education and medical care from the professional’s perspective.

Nancy Hepp, MS Lead Researcher and Program Manager

Maria Williams

Research and Communications Consultant
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Maria Williams is a research and communications consultant who brings over 15 years’ experience in research, consumer education, and science communication to CancerChoices. She has worked primarily in public health and environmental health.

Maria Williams Research and Communications Consultant

Reviewer

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS

Senior Clinical Consultant
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Laura Pole is senior clinical consultant for CancerChoices. Laura is an oncology clinical nurse specialist who has been providing integrative oncology clinical care, navigation, consultation, and education services for over 40 years. She is the co-creator and co-coordinator of the Integrative Oncology Navigation Training at Smith Center for Healing and the Arts in Washington, DC. Laura also manages the “Media Watch Cancer News That You Can Use” listserv for Smith Center/Commonweal. In her role as a palliative care educator and consultant, Laura has served as statewide Respecting Choices Faculty for the Virginia POST (Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment) Collaborative as well as provided statewide professional education on palliative and end-of-life care for the Virginia Association for Hospices and Palliative Care.

For CancerChoices, Laura curates content and research, networks with clinical and organizational partners, brings awareness and education of integrative oncology at professional and patient conferences and programs, and translates research into information relevant to the patient experience as well as clinical practice.

Laura sees her work with CancerChoices as a perfect alignment of all her passions, knowledge and skills in integrative oncology care. She is honored to serve you.

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS Senior Clinical Consultant

Last update: May 31, 2022

CancerChoices provides information about integrative in cancer care, a patient-centered approach combining the best of conventional care, self care and evidence-informed complementary care in an integrated plan cancer care. We review complementaryin cancer care, complementary care involves the use of therapies intended to enhance or add to standard conventional treatments; examples include supplements, mind-body approaches such as yoga or psychosocial therapy, and acupuncture therapies and self-care lifestyle actions and behaviors that may impact cancer outcomes; examples include eating health-promoting foods, limiting alcohol, increasing physical activity, and managing stress practices to help patients and professionals explore and integrate the best combination of conventionalthe cancer care offered by conventionally trained physicians and most hospitals; examples are chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy and complementary therapies and practices for each person.

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