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26 July 2013
Cancer risk for tall women

The taller a woman is, the greater her risk for developing cancer after menopause, according to a new study in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

The study used data from 21,000 postmenopausal women aged between 50 and 79 who had been diagnosed with one or more invasive cancers. To study the effect of height, the researchers accounted for many factors influencing cancers, including age, weight, education, smoking habits, alcohol consumption, and hormone therapy.

The research team found that for every 10-centimeter (4 inches) increase in height, there was a 13 percent increase in risk of developing any cancer. Among specific cancers, there was a 13-17 percent increase in the risk of getting melanoma and cancers of the breast, ovary, endometrium, and colon. There was a 23-29 percent increase in the risk of developing cancers of the kidney, rectum, thyroid, and blood.

Because the ability to screen for certain cancers could have influenced the results, the researchers added the participants' mammography, Pap, and colorectal cancer screening histories to the analyses and found the results remained unchanged.

"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 BMI [body mass index ]," said researcher Geoffrey Kabat, from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "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."

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Source: American Association for Cancer Research

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