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Study Contends Taller People at Heightened Cancer Risk
Date:7/21/2011

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, July 20 (HealthDay News) -- Tall folks may be more likely than shorter people to develop cancer, new British research says.

Among women, the risk of breast, ovarian, uterine and bowel cancer, leukemia or melanoma appears to go up about 16 percent for every 4-inch bump in stature, the researchers said.

"Taller women in our study had increased risk of a wide range of cancers," said study co-author Jane Green, from the cancer epidemiology unit at the University of Oxford in England. "And all the evidence from past studies is that this link is seen equally in men and women."

The findings also suggest that gains in height over the 20th century -- Europeans' average height grew nearly half an inch per decade -- might help explain some of the cancer differences seen in recent generations, the researchers said.

While the study found an association between height and cancer risk, it did not prove a cause-and-effect.

One expert from the American Cancer Society said the finding should not spur panic among the more statuesque.

"Nobody will be trying to make themselves shorter to lower their cancer risk, and the current results do not mean tall people need additional cancer screening," Eric Jacobs, strategic director for pharmacoepidemiology at the cancer society, said in a statement.

And, he added, the advice to Americans of any height remains the same: "Both short and tall people can lower their risk of developing and dying from cancer by not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting the recommended cancer screening tests."

For their report, published online July 21 in The Lancet Oncology, the researchers analyzed data from the Million Women Study, conducted in the United Kingdom between 1996 and 2001.

The nearly 1.3 million middle-aged women enrolled in the study had undergone an initial routine breast-screening exam and compl
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