Watch out long-legged Scandinavians—a large study shows taller people may have an increased risk of developing cancer than their shorter peers.
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet and University of Stockholm examined 5.5 million Swedish men and women and found a correlation between height and cancer. For every 10 centimeters (4 inches) of height, a woman’s risk of developing cancer increased by 18 percent and a man’s by 11 percent, the study showed.
Taller women had a 20 percent greater risk of developing breast cancer than shorter women and both men and women’s risk of suffering melanoma, a type of skin cancer, increased by about 30 percent for every 10 centimeters of height.
The study, presented at the annual European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology meeting in Barcelona on Friday, proves an association but not a cause-and-effect relationship. Still, researchers say the study—the largest of its kind—adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting a linkage between height and cancer and underscores the importance of identifying why the relationship exits.
“Identifying potential risk factors for cancer can help us understand the mechanisms for how cancer develops and that might be used to develop treatments,” said Dr. Emelie Benyi, a researcher at Karolinska Institutet who led the study.