KANSAS CITY, Mo. — This may sound like a tall tale, but it’s rooted in research. Scientists are reporting the taller a woman is, the greater her risk for cancer.
The study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention looked at about 21,000 post-menopausal women. It accounted for other factors that impact their risk of cancer, and found that for every four-inch increase in height, there was a 13 percent increase in the chance of cancer. The modest increase in risk was seen with many forms of cancer including breast, ovary, endometrium, colon and melanoma.
“Crazy. I have no idea how that could be,” says Kate Craig who is 5 feet, 11 inches tall.
A genetics counselor at Research Medical Center explains the possible link that researchers will need to further explore.
“When we think about how do genes contribute to height, things like hormone and growth factors — all of that probably play a role and those things probably play a role in cancers also,” says Molly Lund.
Researchers found height was linked to more types of cancer than have previously been linked to weight. Lund says this one study is not enough reason to change cancer screening guidelines for tall women.
“I think our recommendations would be the same that women talk with their doctors about their family history, that they come up with a good screening plan,” says Lund.
She also says focus on a healthy lifestyle with good nutrition and exercise to lower the chances of cancer.
Researchers say they also need to look more at what young children eat and how that influences their adult height and risk for cancer.