5-8- that's how tall I am. My daughter’s 6 feet. So this new study linking height and cancer risk got my attention.
Published in Cancer Epidemiology, Bio-markers and Prevention, it looked at cancer risk in nearly 145,000 post-menopausal women in the Women's Health Initiative and followed them for 12 years. During that time, more than 20,000 cancers were detected.
After adjusting for unhealthy habits such as smoking and alcohol use, and for other variables, researchers found cancer risk in tall women was increased significantly for all 19 cancers studied. For every 4 inch increase in height, there was at least a 13% increase in cancer risk.
Researchers didn’t specify a starting height for cancer risk. They looked at comparative heights.
Why the link? Researchers believe nutrition plays a role: perhaps kids who grow tall drink more milk, and may have higher levels of hormones, including insulin-like growth factors that could promote cancer cell growth.
Genetics may also play a role: the genes linked to height could predispose to cancer. More research is needed, but scientists say this study adds to the growing body of evidence that when it comes to cancer risk, height matters.
This study only looked at women, but previous research shows similar results for men. Increased height can mean increased cancer risk.