Barcelona, Spain – A recent study performed by researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Solna, Sweden, discovered that tall people are at greater risk of developing cancer. The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the European Society for Pediatric Endocrinology in Barcelona, Spain.

For every 10 centimeters of adult height, researchers discovered that cancer risk was associated to a 10 percent increase in women and 11 percent in men. Credit: Roy HSU/Getty Images

“To our knowledge, this is the largest study performed on linkage between height and cancer including both women and men,” said lead researcher Dr. Emelie Benyi from the Karolinska Institutet in Solna, Sweden, in a news release from the endocrinology society, News Health reported.

The Study

The Swedish researchers assembled and analyzed data from nearly 6 million men and women in Sweden. People included in the study were those born between 1939 and 1991. The average height ranged between 1 to 2.2 meters and their health was followed beginning in 1958 (or from their 20s) until the end of 2011.

For every 10 centimeters of adult height, researchers discovered that cancer risk was associated to a 10 percent increase in women and 11 percent in men. Findings showed that women with higher height had a 20 percent increased risk of developing breast cancer. The study also found that men and women were at a greater risk of developing melanoma by 30 percent, for every 10 centimeters of height.

However, Benyi stated that “It should be emphasized that our results reflect cancer incidence on a population level. As the cause of cancer is multifactorial, it is difficult to predict what impact our results have on cancer risk at the individual level.”

In addition, Melanoma is a cancer of the skin. It begins in Melanocytes, the cells that produce the pigment melanin that colors the skin, hair, and eyes. Melanocytes also form moles, where melanoma often develops.

Other views

Susan Gapstur, who is vice-president of epidemiology at the American Cancer Society said that “This study confirms what other studies have shown. Previous research has also found a link between height and colon cancer.” However, she warned that these findings only provide an association between both height and cancer risk. But that does not mean that the fact that people are tall implies that they will develop cancer.

“Height may be a reflection of early age exposures. This study may provide a window to understand some early life exposures since adult height is a reflection of genetics and what you are exposed to while you are growing up,” Gapstur stated as News Health reported.

Further Studies

In order to provide more specific details, the researchers are thinking of carrying out further studies to determine if height actually affects the risk of passing away from cancer.

“Our studies show that taller individuals are more likely to develop cancer, but it is unclear so far if they also have a higher risk of dying from cancer or have an increased mortality overall,” the lead author stated, as News Health reported.

Source: Healthday News