Women's Health : Tall Women Have Increased Risk of Cancer

The taller a postmenopausal woman, the greater her risk for developing cancers of the breast, colon, kidney, ovary, rectum and thyroid, U.S. researchers say.

Geoffrey Kabat, senior epidemiologist in the Department of Epidemiology and Population Health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York, said the study involved 20,928 postmenopausal women, identified from a larger group of 144,701 women recruited to the Women's Health Initiative.

"We were surprised at the number of cancer sites that were positively associated with height. In this data set, more cancers are associated with height than were associated with body mass index," Kabat said in a statement.

"Ultimately, cancer is a result of processes having to do with growth, so it makes sense that hormones or other growth factors that influence height may also influence cancer risk."

Some genetic variations associated with height are also linked to cancer risk, and more studies are needed to better understand how these height-related genetic variations predispose some men and women to cancer, Kabat said.

The study found for every 10-centimeter -- 3.94 inches -- increase in height, there was a 13 percent increase in risk of developing any cancer. Among specific cancers, there was a 13 percent to 17 percent increase in the risk of getting melanoma and cancers of the breast, ovary, endometrium, and colon, while there was a 23 percent to 29 percent increase in the risk of developing cancers of the kidney, rectum, thyroid and blood.

The study was published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

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