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Tall Men Display Greater Risk of Skin Disease

January 14, 2002

We've all read the studies that say taller men tend to get better jobs, have happier marriages and do better overall in life than their shorter counterparts. But in one instance, at least, shorter is better. A poll conducted by University of Washington researchers in Seattle found that men taller than 6 feet, 1 inch had almost 2 1/2 times the risk of developing melanoma, an often fatal form of skin cancer, as those who were shorter than 5-foot-8.

In a telephone survey of 386 recently diagnosed melanoma patients and 727 randomly selected people, the subjects were queried about their age, gender, weight, height, diet, sun exposure, sun sensitivity, exercise and income level. Even when other variables were factored in, there was a significant link between the risk of melanoma and height.

Researchers believe that the increased risk was due to the obvious: Taller men have more skin, so they have more of the pigment cells where melanomas develop. Yet the link between height and increased skin cancer risk didn't hold true for women; researchers speculate they have different sun-worshiping habits.

--Linda Marsa

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