New research published in the journal of Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention presents a surprising correlation between height and cancer among post-menopausal women. Findings suggest that the taller a women is, the greater the risk for the disease.
More than 20,900 women were studied aged 50 to 79 who participated in the Women's Health Initiative Study, an ongoing study which focuses on the risk factors contributing to the health of post-menopausal women. Participating women were split into five groups based on their height and matched them to data on their cancer rates.
Interestingly, they discovered that for every 10cm of height, the risk of a woman developing various cancers increased by 13%. When they looked at all cancers together they found that taller women had a 13% to 17% greater risk of melanoma, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer and colon cancer. All cancers showed a positive association with height.
Results are quite surprising but according to Geoffrey Kabat, a senior epidemiologist in the Department of Epidemiology and Population Health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, one explanation could be that since cancer is a result of growth related processes, hormones and other growth factors which can influence height can also influence cancer risk. Height could be also treated as a marker for factors such as nutrition and identifying them may improve our understanding about how to prevent and treat tumours.
Finally, as Dr Thomas Rohan, chair and professor of epidemiology and population health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the study's senior author emphasized, conclusions do not imply that cancer is inevitable for all tall women as no cause-effect relationship was found. There are definitely other factors as well which can also influence the development of such a complex disease as cancer.
Category: Funding longer lives: Health/medicine