Height clue to cancer risk

July 22, 2011
Height clue to cancer risk
Being tall has been linked to health risks: people mark their height at a MoMa exhibit. Credit: Roman Ondak

(Medical Xpress) -- Taller people are at increased risk of a wide range of cancers, according to new research led by Oxford University.

The study found that in women the risk of cancer rises by about 16% for every 10cm (4 inches) increase in height. Previous studies have shown a link between height and , but this research extends the findings to more cancers and for women with differing lifestyles and economic backgrounds.

A report of the research is published Online First in The Lancet Oncology.

"We showed that the link between greater height and increased total cancer risk is similar across many different populations from Asia, Australasia, Europe, and North America," said Dr. Jane Green, lead author of the study, who is based at the Cancer Epidemiology Unit at Oxford University.

"The link between height and cancer risk seems to be common to many different and in different people; suggesting that there may be a basic common mechanism, perhaps acting early in peoples' lives, when they are growing."

To investigate the impact of height on overall and site-specific cancer risk, Dr. Green and colleagues assessed the association between height, other factors relevant for cancer, and cancer incidence, in the Cancer Research UK-funded Million Women Study, which included 1.3 million middle-aged women in the UK enrolled between 1996 and 2001. During an average follow-up time of about 10 years, 97,000 cases of cancer were identified.

The risk of total cancer increased with increasing height, as did the risk of many different types of cancer, including cancers of the breast, ovary, womb, bowel, and malignant . The authors also conducted a meta-analysis combining their results with those from ten previous studies.

Although it is still not clear how height increases cancer risk, it has been suggested that including diet and infections in childhood, as well as growth hormone levels, might be involved. The results suggest that increases in the height of populations over the course of the 20th century might explain some of the changes in over time.

Dr. Green said: "Of course people cannot change their height. Being taller has been linked to a lower risk of other conditions, such as heart disease. The importance of our findings is that they may help us to understand how cancers develop."

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Vitamin C may encourage blood cancer stem cells to die

August 17, 2017
Vitamin C may "tell" faulty stem cells in the bone marrow to mature and die normally, instead of multiplying to cause blood cancers. This is the finding of a study led by researchers from Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone ...

Scientists develop novel immunotherapy technology for prostate cancer

August 17, 2017
A study led by scientists at The Wistar Institute describes a novel immunotherapeutic strategy for the treatment of cancer based on the use of synthetic DNA to directly encode protective antibodies against a cancer specific ...

Outdoor light at night linked with increased breast cancer risk in women

August 17, 2017
Women who live in areas with higher levels of outdoor light at night may be at higher risk for breast cancer than those living in areas with lower levels, according to a large long-term study from Harvard T.H. Chan School ...

Scientists develop blood test that spots tumor-derived DNA in people with early-stage cancers

August 16, 2017
In a bid to detect cancers early and in a noninvasive way, scientists at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center report they have developed a test that spots tiny amounts of cancer-specific DNA in blood and have used it to ...

Researchers find 'switch' that turns on immune cells' tumor-killing ability

August 16, 2017
Molecular biologists led by Leonid Pobezinsky and his wife and research collaborator Elena Pobezinskaya at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have published results that for the first time show how a microRNA molecule ...

Toxic formaldehyde is produced inside our own cells, scientists discover

August 16, 2017
New research has revealed that some of the toxin formaldehyde in our bodies does not come from our environment - it is a by-product of an essential reaction inside our own cells. This could provide new targets for developing ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Ojorf
1 / 5 (2) Jul 25, 2011
Could be as simple as taller people need more cell divisions than shorter people to get to their larger size leaving more scope for error? But I'm no scientist.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.