Researchers followed 1.3 million middle-aged women in the United Kingdom for several years, and found the risk of cancer increased by about 16% for every 4 inches or 10 centimeters of increased height.
But the question remains, why?
According to Jane Green, a clinical epidemiologist at Oxford University and the lead author of the study, the tallest group – women 5 feet 9 or taller – were 37% more likely to develop cancer than the shortest group – women 5 feet and shorter- regardless of factors such as age, socioeconomic status, body-mass index and amount of physical activity.
There were 97,376 incidents of cancers reported among the women, and height related increases were greatest for the following: colon, malignant melanoma, breast, endometrial, kidney, central nervous system, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and leukemia.
The study did not investigate what specifically about height led to the increased risk, but the research add to other studies that have found a link between cancer and height. The study authors aren’t sure what exactly increases the cancer risk, but they believe there are several theories that warrant more investigation.
For one, the authors propose that “taller people have more cells, and thus a greater opportunity for mutations leading to malignant transformation.”
Another possible culprit: Hormone levels resulting from insulin-like growth factors both in childhood and in adult life.“
Growth hormones increase cell growth and rate of division, and inhibit cell death,” Green explained in an email. “Both of these might be relevant to cancer either directly or perhaps just by increasing the number of cell divisions during which mutations can occur in the cell DNA.”
John: I thought that was because the cancer cloud hangs approximately 5 feet 10 inches off of the ground.
Well, add that to the List of Reasons Jen is Totally Going to Get Cancer, after family history, repeated terrible blistering sunburns, getting your first period before age 12, biology labwork, and hours of unintentionally inhaling lots of art supply fumes in confined spaces, and being alive.