Height IS a risk factor for higher-risk prostate cancer


A newly published and very detailed paper based on data from the PRACTICAL consortium now seems to have confirmed that taller men are at greater risk for high-risk prostate cancer than shorter ones (like your sitemaster).

Lophatananon et al. analyzed data from 6,07 prostate cancer cases, from 6,016 controls, and from a subset of men with high-grade prostate (2,480 cases). The full text of this paper is acccessible on line.

The research team collected and analyzed data that included the men’s height and also polymorphisms in genes related to growth processes as both main effects and their possible interactions. (The PRACTICAL consortium includes 78 different study groups from around the world and has been operating since 2008.)

Here is what they found:

  • Height is associated with risk for higher-grade prostate cancer.
  • Men whose height is > 180 cm (i.e., > 70.8 inches) have a 22 percent increase in risk for high-grade prostate cancer  compared to men whose height is < 173 cm (i.e. < 68.1 inches), with an odds ratio (OR) = 1.22.
  • Genetic variants in the growth pathway gene showed an association with prostate cancer risk.
  • In the highest- as opposed to the lowest-score group, the aggregate scores of the selected genetic variants were associated with a significant increase in
    • Overall risk for prostate cancer (by 13 percent)
    • Risk for high-grade prostate cancer (by 15 percent)
  • There was no evidence of gene-environment interaction between height and the selected candidate SNPs.

Clearly there is not much that a man can do about what his height is going to be when he reaches adulthood. On the other hand, for the past couple of hundred years, improvements and changes in diet and nutrition during early life have been affecting the adult height of men and women. For those who are interested in seeing just how much human height has been changing, try this web link. If men are going to continue to get taller, then the incidence of high-risk prostate cancer is going to be rising for future generations (unless we can work out how to prevent it).

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