When It Comes to Cancer Risk, Your Height Matters

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Research conducted by Leonard Nunney, PhD, a biologist at the University of California, Riverside, suggests that tall people are at increased risk for cancer because they have more cells in their bodies. Nunney used information from four large studies in his research, which indicated that overall cancer risk appears to increase by about 10 percent for each additional 4 inches in height.

Tall people have a higher risk than shorter individuals for many types of cancer, especially thyroid cancer in women and skin cancer in women and men. While other studies have indicated that the higher cancer risk in taller people may be the result of independent factors like nutrition, overall health, or social conditions, this research suggests that simply having more cells directly increases cancer risk.

Of the 18 cancers studied, rates of only pancreatic cancer and cancer of the esophagus, stomach, and mouth showed no significant increase with height. In addition to having a larger number of cells, a greater number of cell divisions also increases cancer risk, according to Nunney.

Sourced from: Proceedings of the Royal Society B