Nov 22, 2018

Height and cancer risk

A new study has indicated that the taller you are, the greater your risk of getting cancer – and it’s purely down to the number of cells in your body.

It has been known for some time that taller people have a greater risk of some types of cancer. Prior studies have suggested that for every ten centimetres of height, a person’s risk of developing cancer goes up by approximately ten percent.

Up till now, there have been various potential explanations for this, including exposure to growth hormones in childhood and nutritional factors – but scientists from the University of California Riverside now believe that it is simply down to fact that tall people will have bigger bodies, and therefore more cells in which mutations can occur.

Professor Nunney from California Riverside produced a correlation between height and increased cancer risk, and compared this with previous studies using computer generated predictions of risk, based on the number of cells in the body. He found that these two marked perfectly. There were some cases, however, where the link could be masked by other risk factors such as infection, smoking or lifestyle causes – but height is still important. He states: “whether that comes from a better diet or the fact that your parents happen to be tall doesn’t matter. It is purely the number of cells – however that comes about”.

http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/285/1889/20181743

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