Washington: The taller a postmenopausal woman is, more chances she has to develop cancer, a new study has suggested.
The study found that height was associated to cancers of the breast, colon, endometrium, kidney, ovary, rectum, and thyroid, as well as to multiple myeloma and melanoma, and these links did not change even after adjusting for factors known to influence these cancers.
Geoffrey Kabat, Ph.D., senior epidemiologist in the Department of Epidemiology and Population Health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York, N.Y, said that his team was surprised at the number of cancer sites that were positively associated with height.
He said that in this data set, more cancers are associated with height than were associated with body mass index [BMI].
Kabat explained that ultimately, cancer is a result of processes having to do with growth, so it makes sense that hormones or other growth factors that influence height may also influence cancer risk.
Kabat and his team used data from the Women`s Health Initiative (WHI), a large, multicenter study that recruited postmenopausal women between the ages 50 and 79, between 1993 and 1998. At study entry, the women answered questions about physical activity, and their height and weight were measured.
The researchers identified 20,928 women who had been diagnosed with one or more invasive cancers during the follow-up of 12 years. To study the effect of height, they accounted for many factors influencing cancers, including age, weight, education, smoking habits, alcohol consumption, and hormone therapy.
They found that for every 10-centimeter (3.94 inches) increase in height, there was a 13 percent increase in risk of developing any cancer. Among specific cancers, there was a 13 percent to 17 percent increase in the risk of getting melanoma and cancers of the breast, ovary, endometrium, and colon.
There was a 23 percent to 29 percent increase in the risk of developing cancers of the kidney, rectum, thyroid, and blood.
Because the ability to screen for certain cancers could have influenced the results, the researchers added the participants` mammography, Pap, and colorectal cancer screening histories to the analyses and found the results remained unchanged.
The study has been published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.