Cancer Risk Increases with Height, Large-Scale Swedish Study Finds; 5.5 Million Men & Women Included in Largest-Ever Study of This Association

Cancer risk has been found to increase with height in both Swedish men and women, according to research presented at the 54th Annual European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology (ESPE) Meeting (October 1-3, 2015) in Barcelona Spain. The presentation was titled “Positive Association Between Height and Cancer in the Swedish Population.” This long-term study is the largest ever carried out on the association between height and cancer in both genders. Researchers from the Karolinska Institutet and the University of Stockholm examined 5.5 million men and women in Sweden, born between 1938 and 1991 and with adult heights ranging between 100 cm (3.3 feet) and 225 cm (7.4 feet). The scientists followed the group of individuals from 1958 or from the age of 20 until the end of 2011, and found that for every additional 10 cm (3.9 inches) of height, the risk of developing cancer increased by 18% in women and 11% in men. Additionally, taller women had a 20% greater risk of developing breast cancer, whilst the risk of developing melanoma increased by approximately 30% per additional 10 cm (3.9 inches) of height in both men and women. Previous studies have also shown the same association between height and cancer. That is to say, taller individuals have a higher risk of developing different types of cancer, including breast cancer and melanoma. However, this association has never been studied in men and women on such a large scale before. "To our knowledge, this is the largest study performed on linkage between height and cancer including both women and men," said medical doctor Emelie Benyi, also a Ph.D. student at Karolinska Institutet, who led the study and presented the report at the ESPE meeting.
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