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Increased Height Tied to Higher Cancer Risk

Increased risk in 15 of 17 sites, with the risk in 10 sites significantly increased

THURSDAY, July 21 (HealthDay News) -- Increasing height in women is associated with an increased risk of total cancer and cancer in most sites, according to a study published online July 21 in The Lancet Oncology.

Jane Green, D.Phil., from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, and colleagues investigated the association between height and overall and site-specific risk of cancer for women without a previous cancer diagnosis. Adjusted relative risks (RRs) per 10 cm increase in measured height were assessed for total incident cancer and 17 specific cancer sites for 1,297,124 women followed-up for a 11.7 million person-years (mean 9.5 years per woman). A meta-analysis was conducted of published results from prospective studies of total cancer risk relative to height.

The investigators identified a total of 97,376 incident cancers. The total cancer RR was 1.16 for every 10 cm increase in height. Increased risk was seen in 15 of the 17 sites, with a statistically significant increase in risk for 10 sites: colon (RR per 10 cm increased height, 1.25), rectum (1.14), malignant melanoma (1.32), breast (1.17), endometrium (1.19), ovary (1.17), kidney (1.29), central nervous system (1.20), non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (1.21), and leukemia (1.26). The increase in total cancer RR was not significantly associated with socioeconomic status or other personal characteristics. A significantly lower risk was seen in current smokers than those who had never smoked. Among current smokers, smoking-related cancers were not as strongly related to height as compared to other cancers (RR, 1.05 and 1.17, respectively). Little variation was seen in the meta-analysis conducted across other continents.

"Cancer incidence increases with increasing adult height for most cancer sites," the authors write.

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