Taller Women More Likely To Get Cancer, Study Finds

By iScienceTimes Staff on July 25, 2013 4:08 PM EDT

cancer women
Tall women who are postmenopausal are more likely to get cancer, new research shows. (Photo: Reuters)

Tall, postmenopausal women have a greater risk of getting cancer, new research suggests.

For every increase of four inches, postmenopausal women have a 13 percent greater chance of getting 19 types of cancer, with kidney, blood, rectal and thyroid cancers being between 23 and 29 percent more likely.

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"At this point there have been enough studies that have pointed in the same direction for us to be reasonably certain that among these women there is an increased risk for cancer with increasing height," said study researcher Thomas Rohan, a professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

Rohan and his colleagues based their findings on previously collected data from the Women's Health Initiative, which involved 145,000 women. The researchers looked at 21,000 postmenopausal women, between the ages of 50 and 79, who had developed cancer during a 12-year follow-up period following the WHI study.

Taking into account other cancer risk factors like age, alcohol consumption and smoking history, the researchers found tell women to be more susceptible to cancer.

"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," said Geoffrey Kabat, a senior epidemiologist at Yeshiva University and senior author of the study.

Rohan told the Huffington Post that, "there are many genetic factors that have been shown to contribute to height, and also in unknown ways, can contribute to the development of cancer."  

Those factors include exposure to certain hormones, which not only make a person grow, but could also make cancer grow. Tall women also have larger organs, and thus more organ cells to be potentially infected with cancer.  Those are all theories, though, and further studies would need to be done to figure out why exactly the link exists.

A British study from 2011 also found a link between tall women and cancer. In that study, researchers found an increased cancer risk of about 16 percent for every 4 inches of increased height. 

Rohan's more recent study was published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

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