Tall women are more likely to get cancer, new research suggests.
American scientists found the taller a post-menopausal woman is, the greater her risk of developing cancer.
Yeshiva University research found that for every 10cm increase in height, there was a 13 per cent increase in risk of developing any cancer.
The study, which revealed more cancers are associated with height than those linked to weight, has surprised scientists.
Height was linked to cancers of the breast, colon, endometrium, kidney, ovary, rectum, and thyroid, as well as to multiple myeloma and melanoma.
These associations did not change even after adjusting for factors known to influence these cancers, in the study of 20,928 post-menopausal women.
Dr Geoffrey Kabat, senior epidemiologist of Yeshiva University, said: ‘We were surprised at the number of cancer sites that were positively associated with height.
‘In this data set, more cancers are associated with height than were associated with body mass index.
‘Ultimately, cancer is a result of processes having to do with growth, so it makes sense that hormones or other growth factors that influence height may also influence cancer risk.’
Dr Kabat said some genetic variations associated with height are also linked to cancer risk, but more studies are needed to better understand how these height-related genetic variations predispose some men and women to cancer.
The researchers identified 20,928 women who had been diagnosed with one or more invasive cancers during the follow-up period of 12 years.
To study the effect of height, they accounted for many factors influencing cancers, including age, weight, education, smoking habits, alcohol consumption, and hormone therapy.
They found that for every 10 centimetre increase in height, there was a 13 per cent increase in risk of developing any cancer.
Among specific cancers, there was a 13 to 17 per cent increase in the risk of getting melanoma and cancers of the breast, ovary, endometrium, and colon.
There was a 23 to 29 per cent increase in the risk of developing cancers of the kidney, rectum, thyroid, and blood.
Of the 19 cancers studied, none showed a negative association with height.
The scientists also examined the participants’ mammography, Pap, and colorectal cancer screening histories, which could have swayed conclusions of the study, but found that the results remained unchanged.
Dr Kabat said: ‘The association of height with a number of cancer sites suggests that exposures in early life, including nutrition, play a role in influencing a person’s risk of cancer.
‘There is currently a great deal of interest in early-life events that influence health in adulthood and our study fits with this area.’