None had been diagnosed with any cancer (other than some non-melanoma skin cancers), and they were tracked for more than nine years on average.
The study authors divided the women into six height categories, starting with those women less than 5 feet 1 inches tall, then adding four more groups of increasing height, and ending with the tallest group, which included women 5 feet 9 and taller.
Generally speaking, taller women tended to drink more alcohol and had fewer children than shorter women, the researchers found. Taller women were also less obese, less likely to smoke, wealthier, and more active.
Overall, regardless of most of these factors, taller women were significantly more likely to develop most cancers, with risk ratcheting upward with every increment in height.
One exception was that among women who smoked, smoking played a more pivotal role than height in influencing cancer risk.
The research team also reviewed the findings of 10 prior studies and found a similar association between height and cancer, a connection they said held across many different populations, including those in Europe, North America, Asia, and Australasia.
Of course, "people cannot change their height," Green acknowledged, "and being tall also has health advantages, such as lower risk of heart disease."
The American Cancer Society's Jacobs called the study "large and well designed" and he offered up some theories on what might be behind the link between height and cancer risk.
"One possibility is that taller people may have higher levels of growth-related hormones, both in childhood and in adulthood, and these growth-related hormones may modestly increase cancer risk," he said.
Many factors influence height, including childhood diet and health, genes and hormone levels, the study authors noted.
"The study is important not for individual or publi
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