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Tall women more likely to get cancer, study finds

July 21, 2011|By Marissa Cevallos, HealthKey / For the Booster Shots blog
  • So there is a downside to being tall -- for women, the risk of cancer increases by 16% for every 4 inches of height, according to a new study in the British Medical Journal.
So there is a downside to being tall -- for women, the risk of cancer increases… (Janek Skarzynski / AFP/Getty…)

One instance in which height doesn't give you the advantage—women high in stature are at greater risk for cancer than their vertically challenged peers.

A new study finds that for every 4 inches, a woman’s risk of developing cancer increases by 16%.

The association between cancer and height isn’t new, but the new findings confirm it in a large study and for a wide array of cancers. British researchers assessed data from nearly 1.3 million women enrolled in the Million Women Study; as the women were followed for about nine years, about 97,000 cancers were found.

Even after taking into account factors such as socioeconomic status, alcohol use and body-mass index, researchers found that cancer risk significantly increased with height for 10 out of 17 cancer sites studied. The increased risk was greatest for skin cancer (32%), kidney cancer (29%) and leukemia (26%). And risk of breast cancer, the most common cancer in the study, increased 17% with every 4 inches of height.

The new study was published online Thursday in The Lancet Oncology.

But tall people needn’t fret over the hand they’ve been dealt. The study’s lead author Jane Green of the University of Oxford, said in a news release:

"Of course people cannot change their height. And being taller has actually been linked to a lower risk of other conditions, such as heart disease."

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