Published: Sat, October 27, 2018
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Tall people at greater risk of cancer "because they have more cells"

Tall people at greater risk of cancer

A study has claimed that tall people may be at greater risk of cancer because they have more cells.

This could be because of an increase in growth hormones that can cause an increase in cell division rates, prompting the sorts of bigger mutations found in skin cancers. These mutations continue for life.

An alternative theory is that the same factors that determine height also influence cancer risk, he added. The results of his research revealed that women have a 13% increased risk for every additional 10cm in height while men have 11% risk of getting risk. As tall people have more number of cells, the number of cell divisions among them is also more. As IGF-1 speeds up the rate that cells divide as they grow, it also increases the chance that the cells will turn into tumours. This could thus increase the cancer risk he explained.

BBC reported that the data was gathered from four large-scale studies, including the Million Women Study, on 23 cancer types in the UK, US, South Korea, Austria, Norway, and Sweden.

Average height was defined in the study as 162cm (5 feet, 4 inches) for women and 175cm (5 feet, 9 inches) for men.

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A number of studies have previously found a link between a lofty stature and a greater risk of developing some form of cancer, with research suggesting that for every 10cm of height within the typical range for humans, the risk increases by about 10 per cent.

Nunney says some cancers may have shown no link because the effect of height was masked by other drivers such as HPV infection for cervical cancer. The research suggests that the hormone that stimulates growth, called IGF-1, has an effect on triggering cancer.

The commonest cancers associated with height among women were those of thyroid, skin, colon, lymphomas, ovaries, breast and uterus.

Of 18 cancer types that have been analyzed in both men and women, four - pancreas, esophagus, stomach and mouth/pharynx - showed no apparent increase with height.

"Whether that comes from a better diet or the fact that your parents happen to be tall doesn't matter... it is purely a number of cells, however that comes about", he said. He also added that men are more likely to get cancers than women due to their stature. "A number of studies over the years have shown that taller people seem to have a slightly higher risk of cancer", she said.

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