According to new research, taller people have a higher chance of being diagnosed with cancer than shorter ones.
The study, conducted under the auspices of the Karolinska Institute, Sweden and the University of Stockholm, Sweden is a large-scale research including data on 5.5 million people.
Overall, the results of the large-scale study indicate that for women there is an added 18 percent risk of developing cancer for each 10 centimeters above the 100 centimeters height. For men, the risk heightens by 11 percent for each 10 additional centimeters in height.
This is not a cause of panic. Other factors play a far greater role in the development of cancer, among which diet, obesity or smoking are just a few. Yet, this matter was worth looking into, according to the researchers. What could explain this association? According to Doctor Emelie Benyi with the Karolinska Institute and lead author of the study, among the reasons that could explain it is:
“that taller people have a larger number of cells in their body which could potentially transform to cancer. It could also be that taller individuals have a higher energy intake which has previously been linked to cancer”.
The people included in the study have been born between 1938 and 1991. Their height varied between 100 centimeters and 225 centimeters. A particular finding referred to skin cancer. The taller one is, according to the finding, the higher the risk of developing melanoma. About 30 percent higher for each 10 centimeters extra. For women, the risk of developing breast cancer spiked by 20 percent with height increase. The study did not account for other factors at play. It looked specifically at the link between height and the risk of developing a form of cancer.
Partial results of the study have been presented during the European Society for Pediatric Endocrinology conference taking place in Barcelona. Soon, the results will also be published for further analysis.
According to Professor Mel Greaves with the Institute of Cancer Research, another explanation for the link between height and increased risk of cancer development is hormone growth. For instance, previous studies have indicated that the incidence of cancer in people with genetic dwarfism is very low. In their case, both the growth hormone and the receptor are mutated. The growth hormone receptor and the growth hormone are both at play in the development of tumors. It is this hormone that not only accelerates the growth of bones, but the multiplication of cells as well.
Nonetheless, this study is meant to simply bridge a gap in the extensive science of cancer research. That is not to say taller people or all taller people are to develop cancer by default. The study did not account for other risk factors. At the same time, it was a strictly population based study, including specifically Swedish citizens.
When looking at breast cancer for instance, factors such as a family history of cancer or smoking, poor diet and others play a far greater role than height. The full association between height and cancer development is still a puzzle for the medical research community.
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