Why tall people get the short end of the stick when it comes to cancer

There are a ton of advantages to being tall…

You can reach stuff on high shelves. You can see better at movies and concerts. You can walk quicker thanks to your long legs. And you can eat more because taller people need more calories than short people.

All in all, life as a tall person’s pretty sweet. But being tall isn’t all flowers and sunshine…

Despite these advantages, there’s one big disadvantage to your towering height…

You have a higher cancer risk.

A new study shows that, for every extra 10 centimeters (roughly four inches) you are above average height, your cancer risk increases by 11 to 13 percent.

Being tall increases risk for 18 types of cancer

Researchers from the University of California found that being tall increases the risk of at least 18 different cancers.

For women, a tall stature increases the risk of:

  • Skin cancer
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Womb cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Lymphoma
  • Ovarian cancer

For men, it increases the risk of:

  • Skin cancer
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Lymphoma
  • Biliary tract cancer
  • Central nervous system cancer

The elevated cancer risk isn’t insanely high. It goes up 13 percent for each extra 10 cm of height for women and 11 percent for each extra 10 cm of height for men. But even a slightly higher risk is good to be aware of.

Now, if you’re tall (or even if you’re not), you may be wondering why height makes a difference in cancer risk. Here’s why…

Tall people have more cells. And the more cells you have, the more chances there are for mutations to occur. More mutations mean a higher cancer risk. So, it’s just a numbers game.

Planning for cancer prevention

Whether you’re tall or short, it never hurts to keep cancer prevention front of mind. But if you’re tall, you might want to pay extra attention to cancer prevention.

Here are a few simple habits that will help you curb your cancer risk, so you can stop stressing and enjoy the benefits of your height:

  1. Stop smoking. If you’re still smoking, now’s the time to stop. Tobacco smoke contains at least 50 cancer-causing chemicals. That’s why smoking causes about 30 percent of all cancer deaths in the U.S.
  2. Eat whole foods. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are all tied to a lower cancer risk. But processed foods (especially processed meats) are tied to a higher risk.
  3. Exercise daily. Regular exercise reduces your risk of several types of cancer, including colon, prostate, breast and reproductive cancers.
  4. Keep your BMI down. Being overweight or obese increases your cancer risk too. Luckily, if you’re exercising daily and eating whole foods, your BMI should fall into line quickly.
  5. Avoid unnecessary radiation. Have you ever had your house tested for radon? If not, you may want to. Exposure to radon and other forms of radiation can increase your cancer risk. Getting unnecessary medical tests could increase your radiation exposure too.
  6. Avoid environmental toxins whenever possible. It’s impossible to avoid environmental toxins altogether but limiting your exposure is a wise choice. The worst cancer culprits are asbestos fibers, benzene, aromatic amines, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
  7. Get your daily D. Getting enough vitamin D can decrease your likelihood of many cancers, including prostate and colon cancer. You can spend time in the sun to optimize your vitamin D levels. But for many people, it’s impossible to get enough vitamin D from the sun alone. So, taking a supplement isn’t a bad idea.

Editor’s note: Discover how to live a cancer prevention lifestyle — using foods, vitamins, minerals and herbs — as well as little-known therapies allowed in other countries but denied to you by American mainstream medicine. Click here to discover Surviving Cancer! A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding the Causes, Treatments and Big Business Behind Medicine’s Most Frightening Diagnosis!


  1. Study finds taller people more likely to get certain cancers due to cell numbers — MedicalXpress
  2. Size matters: height, cell number and a person’s risk of cancer — Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
  3. The 10 commandments of cancer prevention — Harvard Medical School
  4. Cancer prevention — World Health Organization
  5. Health Risks of Smoking Tobacco — American Cancer Society
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.