Findings

Tall People At Greater Risk For Cancer

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Science  29 Jul 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6042, pp. 506
DOI: 10.1126/science.333.6042.506-c
CREDIT: AKKO DATTA/REUTERS/LANDOV

There's a downside to height: tall people are more likely to develop cancer. A study published online 21 July in The Lancet Oncology finds that this holds in women with many types of cancer. The researchers looked at the incidence of 17 cancer types, from breast cancer to leukemia, over 9 years among 1.3 million women in a U.K. health study. Cancer risk rose 16% with every added 10 centimeters in height. The results agree with previous studies of cancer and height in both men and women. The adult height of European populations has risen 1 centimeter per decade since 1900, and this could have increased cancer incidence by 10% to 15%, the researchers say. Why being taller might make people more vulnerable to cancer is not known, however. One possibility is that the hormones that cause children to grow taller also stimulate the growth of cancer cells.

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