Why Taller People Have a Higher Cancer Risk

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It’s already been established that tall people are at a higher risk of developing various health conditions, such as blood clots.
Previous cancer studies have shown that, indeed, tall people do face an increased risk of getting cancer.
Specifically, the risk goes up by about 10 percent for every 4-inch increase in height. But why is this?
Leonard Nunney, PhD, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California, Riverside, investigated the connection in a new study, published in the Royal Society journal.
Nunney tested the hypothesis that tall people are more susceptible to cancer because their height adds cells. With more cells, there are more chances for things to go wrong.
The research confirmed the height effect on some cancers, but also uncovered intriguing wrinkles — details that could help unravel some of the mysteries surrounding the relationship between cells, genes, and cancer.
Variations abound
When comparing humans to humans, the height effect has been confirmed by multiple studies, notably the Million Women Study that Nunney incorporated into his research.
But when crunching the numbers further, certain cancers behaved differently.
The risk for four types — pancreatic, esophageal, stomach, and mouth cancer — didn’t increase with height.
One possible reason for this could be certain environmental factors, says Nunney.
“There are a few cancers that don’t seem to scale with height as much as we’d expect, and one possible explanation for that is that there’s a major environmental factor that’s involved that’s not linked to height, and it’s sort of swamping the height effect,” he said.

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