Taller men (in Sweden) at greater risk for cancer


This is by no means the first time it has been suggested that taller men and women are at greater risk for cancer than shorter ones, but such data will again be presented at an ongoing meeting of the European Society of Paediatric Endocrinology in Barcelona, Spain.

The data are based on an analysis of data from 5.5 million Swedes born between 1938 and 1991 whose adult heights ranged from 100 to 225 cm (i.e., 3′ 3″ to 7′ 6″). According to the research team from the Karolinska Institute:

  • Women’s risk for diagnosis with cancer of any kind rose by 18 percent for each 10 cm of additional height.
  • Men’s risk for diagnosis with cancer of any kind rose by 11 percent for each 10 cm of additional height.

But (and this is a big but) …

  • Height is not as great a risk for cancer as smoking, obesity, and/or a poor diet.
  • There are no data suggesting that taller people are actually at greater risk of dying of cancer than shorter people.
  • Taller people have less risks for heart disease and are likely to live longer than short people.

According to Dr. Emelie Benyi, the lead researcher, there are a number of possible reasons for this association between height and risk for cancer diagnosis, and

One is that taller people have a larger number of cells in their body which could potentially transform to cancer. It could also be that taller individuals have a higher energy intake which has previously been linked to cancer.

There are, of course, all sorts of other possibilities, one being levels of growth hormone and growth hormone activity in developing children from a very early age.

To see more, here’s a link to an article in today’s Guardian in England.

With respect to prostate cancer, there have been prior studies suggesting that tall men are at greater risk for prostate cancer than shorter ones, but it has never actually been proven.

Editorial comment: Your sitemaster would merely note that of course all this completely explains why he doesn’t have prostate cancer or any other form of cancer. … He is relatively short (at a mere 5′ 7¾”); he doesn’t smoke; his body mass index is 26; and he has an excellent diet (largely because Mrs. Sitemaster is an obsessively excellent cook). Of course in the interests of full disclosure he should note that: the last ¼” of that 5′ 7¾” is debatable; he smoked like a chimney for the best part of 30 years; he’s not nearly as fit as he was 15 years ago; and he eats salad under duress (while recognizing that it is a good idea … but not as good an idea as chocolate chip cookies!). Ah well … none of us are perfect.

One Response

  1. Sitemaster,

    We have a lot in common, and you’ve given me a great idea — stir a few CC cookies into the daily serving of “rabbit food.”

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