Tall? Your Cancer Risk Just Went Up

In women, four extra inches increases risk by 16%: study
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 21, 2011 6:30 AM CDT
Updated Jul 21, 2011 8:09 AM CDT
Taller isn't necessarily better.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – If you've always wished for a few extra inches, you might want to reconsider: A new study finds that taller people are at greater risk of getting cancer. For every extra four inches of height in women, the overall risk rises by about 16%, the Wall Street Journal reports. The risk for specific types of cancer—including breast, ovary, leukemia, melanoma, and others—also rose with increased height. The study, which took place between 1996 and 2001 and followed up for 10 years, focused on 1.3 million middle-aged women in Britain.

Thought it is not clear how cancer and height are linked, the findings could explain changes in the occurrence of cancer over the past century as height has increased. "It suggests that there may be a basic common mechanism, perhaps acting early in peoples' lives, when they are growing," says the lead researcher. Environmental influences including diet, childhood infections, growth hormones, and genetic factors all help to determine height.

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