Height Associated with Cancer Risk

The Physicians Committee

Height Associated with Cancer Risk

July 29, 2013

Tall women have a greater risk for various cancers, compared with those who are shorter, according to a new study by the American Association for Cancer Research. Researchers analyzed the data from 144,701 postmenopausal participants from the Women's Health Initiative and found that as height increased, so did risk of cancers, including thyroid, kidney, colon, ovarian, and breast cancers. The authors caution that height is not a risk factor itself but rather a marker for other risk factors including high-calorie diets in childhood, higher intakes of milk in childhood, and higher circulating levels of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1). IGF-1 promotes the proliferation of cells, including cancer cells, and is a consequence of greater milk intake. According to the authors, more circulating IGF-1 in childhood results in greater height.

Kabat JC, Anderson ML, Heo M, et al. Adult stature and risk of cancer at different anatomic sites in a cohort of postmenopausal women. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. Published online July 25, 2013.

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