Higher cancer rates have been linked generally to taller people, but University of Minnesota researchers are reporting a startling find: Men with longer legs have a 42% higher risk of developing colorectal cancer than those with shorter legs, reports Live Science. More specifically, they found that the men with the longest legs (at an average length of 35.4 inches) had a 91% greater risk of colon cancer than men with the shortest legs (at an average length of 31.1 inches). But in women, any differences in risk between the tallest and shortest legs were so small as to be statistically insignificant. They also note that it is leg length in particular, not total body length, where the differences in men arise.
The researchers offer up two theories as to why leg length matters. One is that taller people have longer colons and thus more real estate on which cancer can grow. The other, which these findings seem to support, is that the growth hormones that increase leg length may contribute to colon cancer risk. The research hasn't yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, notes Live Science, but it's not all grim news: Researchers in South Korea have observed that a diet rich in nuts appears to reduce colon cancer risks for both men and women, reports Live Science. And WebMD has a small but compelling study that a recently FDA-approved stool-based DNA test may help screen for colon cancer. (Now why are colon cancer rates are up among people younger than 50?)