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Tall people face cancer risk

Thursday July 21st, 2011

Tall people face an increased risk of developing cancer in almost all cultures, researchers said today.

And part of the reason for increasing cancer rates in Europe may be because of the growing height of Europeans over the last century, according to the analysis.

Researchers do not know the reasons for the link - it could be simply because tall people have more cells in their bodies or it could be linked to them having more growth hormones during childhood.

The findings come largely from a study of some million women in the UK conducted over a 15-year-period.

Writing in The Lancet, the researchers say they have trawled through other studies of cancer prevalence - and finding the link all around the world, in Asia, Australasia and North America.

Researcher Dr Jane Green, of Oxford University, UK, said: "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.

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

She added: "Of course people cannot change their height. And being taller has actually been linked to a lower risk of other conditions, such as heart disease."

Sara Hiom, of Cancer Research UK, said: "Tall people need not be alarmed by these results. Most people are not a lot taller (or shorter) than average, and their height will only have a small effect on their individual cancer risk.

“And while we can’t control our height, there are many lifestyle choices people can make that we know have a greater impact on reducing the risk of cancer such as not smoking, moderating alcohol, keeping a healthy weight and being physically active.”

The Lancet July 21 2011

Tags: Cancer | General Health | UK News | Women’s Health & Gynaecology | World Health

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