Height Linked to Cancer Risk – Again

Deja vu all over again.

Among a large prospective cohort of postmenopausal women, investigators found a modest association between height and the risk of cancer (including melanoma, multiple myeloma, and cancers of the thyroid, ovary, colon, rectum, and endometrium.

Dr. Geoffrey Kabat and colleagues (Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York City) looked for a link between height and cancer at 19 body sites among 144,701 women measured at enrollment for the Women’s Health Initiative study. At a median follow-up of 12 years, 20,928 cancers were identified.

For every 10cm increase in height, there was a 13% increase in the risk of developing any cancer, after adjustment for potential confounders such as age, weight, education, smoking habits, alcohol consumption, and hormone therapy.

My take: We have seen this association in several other studies. And we men don’t escape the link (full disclosure: This author is height-challenged). Why might height be linked to an increase in cancer risk? Perhaps improved nutrition in childhood, with more calorie-dense foods and milk – may increase levels of a hormone known as insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), and with increased linear growth and greater height. IGF-1 promotes cell proliferation, which can contribute to cancer.

The small print: The material presented herein is informational only, and is not designed to provide specific guidance for an individual. Please check with a valued health care provider with any questions or concerns. As for me, I am a Harvard- , Yale- and UPenn-educated radiation oncologist, and I practice in the Seattle, WA (USA) area. I feel genuinely privileged to be able to share with you. If you enjoyed today’s offering, please consider clicking the follow button at the bottom of this page.

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Reference: Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. Published online 25 July 2013. Abstract.

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Harvard AB Yale MD UPenn Radiation Oncology Radiation Oncologist, Seattle area

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