LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The greener the neighborhood, the longer neighbors survive cancer. That's according to a recent study by the University of Louisville's (UofL) "Green Heart Project." The study has been working with Louisville Grows to plant trees in neighborhoods that are lacking and study the health effects greenness has on residents. This could determine which areas of Louisville are healthier for citizens.

In its next phase, researchers will try to learn more about the effects on heart disease.

What You Need To Know

  • UofL's "Green Heart Project" is learning how trees help cancer survivors and impact heart disease

  • Findings could help determine which neighborhoods are healthier for residents, based on greenness 

  • Louisville Grows is planting thousands of trees for the project 

  • Volunteers from South Louisville are needed for the study's next phase

Ked Stanfield stands before a row of evergreens he helped plant in a South Louisville neighborhood not far from his own home. About a block down is the ever-busy I-264. That pollution from car exhaust is one reason this area was prioritized for planting.

"There's no trees in my yard," Stanfield admitted, "but I'm passionate about it...I live about two miles from here."

He's the executive director of Louisville Grows, which has planted 1,700 trees so far; It's part of UofL's Green Heart study. So, the trees do more than just look nice. Stanfield hopes they make people healthier.

It's a first-of-its-kind project, in which the trees are treated as medicine. They are planted and people are studied. So far, the findings have been exciting.

"People who live in green places are likely to survive their cancer for a longer time than people who live in less green spaces," said Dr. Aruni Bhatnagar, UofL professor of medicine and Christina Lee Brown Envirome Institute director. 

This could mean that neighborhoods with fewer trees are less healthy for their inhabitants. 

Now Bhatnagar needs volunteers from south Louisville, so he can study how trees impact heart disease. "We need to figure out how we can decrease the rates of this major killer by improving our living conditions," he said.

Stanfield is preparing to plant thousands of more trees this year for this project. He's proud of it.

"It's allowed me to work in my own neighborhood and help out my neighbors and plant trees," he affirmed.

Volunteers can learn more at the HEAL Study website.