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Tall People May Have Greater Cancer Risk

Tall People May Have Greater Cancer Risk
  • Results of a new study from the Karolinska Institutet and University of Stockholm are surprisingly simple: The taller you are, the greater the chance of developing cancer.

    The study followed 5.5 million 20-year-old Swedish men and women from 1958 until 2011. All participants were born between the years 1938 and 1991. Data on adult height was collected from the Swedish Medical Birth, the Swedish Conscription, and the Swedish Passport Registers, and cancer data was taken from the Swedish Cancer Register.

    The researchers found for every additional 10 cm of height, risk of developing cancer increased by 18 percent in women and 11 percent in men. Every 10 cm increase also increased the risk of melanoma for men and women by 30 percent. Lastly, taller women were also shown to have a 20 percent higher chance at developing breast cancer.

    This was the first time the association between height and cancer has been studied on a such a large scale, however previous smaller studies have shown the same association.

    Researchers say environmental factors that affect variations in height, including diet and infections during childhood, may play a role. They added that hormone levels, especially growth hormones, such as insulin-like growth factors (IGFs), might play a part as well. An “even further possibility” they say may be because taller people have more stem cells, it leads to greater opportunity for mutations that can lead to malignant tumors. 

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