Link be­tween tallness & higher can­cer risk: un­pub­lished re­search

The China Post - - LIFE GUIDE POST -

Be­ing tall is linked to a higher risk of can­cer, es­pe­cially for women, said re­search Thurs­day drawn from phys­i­cal and health data for five mil­lion peo­ple in Swe­den.

For ev­ery 10 cen­time­ters over one me­ter in height, the odds of de­vel­op­ing can­cer in­creased by 10 per­cent in men and 18 per­cent in women, the re­search team re­ported at a med­i­cal con­fer­ence in Barcelona.

A Swedish woman 1.72 me­ters tall, for ex­am­ple, was about a third more likely to con­tract can­cer than a woman of 1.52 me­ters.

The find­ings, which have not been pub­lished in a sci­en­tific jour­nal, sup­port sim­i­lar links found in other stud­ies be­tween height and el­e­vated can­cer risk — but the re­searchers said their work was based on the largest group of men and women yet.

It was not clear if their find­ings would trans­late to peo­ple who live in dif­fer­ent cli­mates, with dif­fer­ent di­ets and ge­netic back­grounds.

The find­ings, un­veiled at a meet­ing of the Euro­pean So­ci­ety for Pae­di­atric En­docrinol­ogy, looked at birth, health and mil­i­tary records of 5.5 mil­lion peo­ple born be­tween 1938 and 1991. The tallest was 2.25 me­ters in adult­hood.

It found that

for ev­ery ex­tra 10 cen­time­ters, a woman had a 20-per­cent higher risk of breast can­cer, while there was a jump of 30 per­cent for ev­ery 10 cm in melanoma risk for both gen­ders.

A United States study in 2013, done among only women, had found a 13 per­cent higher risk of de­vel­op­ing cer­tain can­cers for each 10 cen­time­ters of height.

The new re­search was met with some skep­ti­cism by out­side ex­perts who ques­tioned the method­ol­ogy, and stressed there was a much stronger can­cer risk link with fac­tors such as ge­net­ics or obe­sity.

Rather than tallness “caus­ing” an el­e­vated can­cer risk, fac­tors like growth hor­mones may be in­flu­enc­ing both traits, they pointed out.

“It sounds an odd re­la­tion­ship at first glance, but it is ac­tu­ally very plau­si­ble that the risk of can­cer in a per­son should be re­lated to the num­ber of cells in their body, since that de­ter­mines the num­ber of cells ‘at risk,’” Dorothy Ben­nett, a sci­en­tist at Univer­sity of Lon­don said in com­ments is­sued by the Science Media Cen­tre.

“A can­cer arises by mu­ta­tions from a sin­gle nor­mal cell. Big­ger peo­ple have more cells.”

Mel Greaves, a re­searcher at the In­sti­tute of Can­cer Re­search in Lon­don, added: “Tall peo­ple shouldn’t worry that they are des­tined to get can­cer.”

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