Taller people are at increased risk of a wide range of cancers, according to an analysis of population studies. In women the risk of cancer rises by about 16 percent for every 4-inch increase in height.
Previous studies have shown a link between height and cancer risk, but the latest research extends the findings to more cancers and for women with differing lifestyles and economic backgrounds. The results suggest that increases in the height of populations over the course of the past 100 years might explain why some cancers have increased significantly.
Although it is still not clear how height is linked to increased cancer risk, height is determined by environmental influences including diet and infections in childhood, as well as growth hormone levels and genetic factors.
The researchers conclude: “Of course people cannot change their height. Being taller has been linked to a lower risk of other conditions, such as heart disease. The importance of our findings is that they may help us to understand how cancers develop.”