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Women’s Height Is Linked to Cancer Risk, Say Researchers

Comstock/Thinkstock(OXFORD, England) -- Previous studies have reported that tall people are at a greater risk of cancer -- that increasing height increases risk for not just all cancers combined, but also for a number of individual cancers such as breast, ovary, prostate and large bowel.  Now in a study published in Lancet Oncology, University of Oxford researchers provide an even more detailed look at this association.
The authors reviewed medical data for almost 1.3 million women in the UK who were followed for almost 10 years as part of a large Million Women Study.  They found that for every four-inch increase in height, women’s risk of cancer went up by about 16 percent.  

Looking at 17 different cancers, they found that the risk was linked with height for 10 of them. They were colon cancer with a 25-percent increase per four-inch increase in height; rectal cancer with a 14-percent increase; malignant melanoma with a 32-percent increase; breast cancer with a 17-percent increase; endometrial cancer with a 19-percent increase; ovarian cancer with a 17-percent increase; kidney cancer with a 29-percent increase; cancer of the central nervous system with a 20-percent increase; non-Hodgkin lymphoma with a 21-percent increase; and leukemia with a 26-percent increase.
When the authors re-analyzed previously published studies that included other European, North American, Australasian as well as Asian populations, they saw similar associations between height and cancer risk.  The authors don’t actually know how height is linked to increased cancer risk, but they conclude, "People cannot change their height.  Being taller has been linked to a lower risk of other conditions, such as heart disease.  The importance of our findings is that they may help us to understand how cancers develop.”
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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