Cancer risk rises with height, study finds

Being tall significantly increases the risk of cancer, the biggest study looking into the link has shown.

Researchers analysed data on 5.5m Swedish men and women with adult heights ranging between a diminutive 100cm and lofty 225cm.

They found that, for every extra 10cm in height, the overall risk of developing cancer increased by 11% for men and 18% for women.

Taller women had a 20% greater risk of breast cancer than short women, while the chances of having melanoma skin cancer increased by around 30% per 10cm of height in both sexes.

The study is the largest yet carried out.

Lead researcher Dr Emelie Benyi, from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, said: “Our results reflect cancer incidence on a population level. As the cause of cancer is multifactorial, it is difficult to predict what impact our results have on cancer risk at the individual level.”

The findings were presented at the European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology meeting in Barcelona, Spain.

Dr Benyi’s team collected information from birth, passport and medical records and investigated cancer rates.

The people examined were born between 1939 and 1991 and followed from 1958, or the age of 20, until the end of 2011, researchers said.

Dr Benyi said they now plan to stuyd links between death rates and height. “Our studies show that taller individuals are more likely to develop cancer but it is unclear so far if they also have a higher risk of dying from cancer or have an increased mortality overall,” she said.

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