Tall Risk

A study of 1,3 million women published in The Lancet Oncology finds that tall women are more likely to develop cancer. The researchers looked at the incidence of 17 cancer types, from breast cancer to leukemia, in a long-term health study across socio-economic levels. Cancer risk rose 16% with every added 10 centimeters (4 inches)  in height. Those in the tallest group, over 5ft 9in, were 37% more likely to have developed a tumor than those in the shortest group, under 5ft. Coincidentally the adult height of European populations has risen 10 centimeters since 1900. This could have increased cancer incidence 10% to 15%, the researchers say.

Dr. Jane Green, lead researcher from the University of Oxford said: “Obviously height itself cannot affect cancer, but it may be a marker for something else. Scientists believe that as there is a link across many cancers there “maybe a basic common mechanism”. They think, but have not proved, that growth hormones – such as insulin-like growth factors – may be the explanation. Higher levels of growth factors could do three things. First, more growth hormones result in more cells which could mutate and become tumours. Shrink Think godfather Thomas Samaras connected this argument to the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Secondly, they could increase the rate of cell division and turnover, increasing the risk of genetic mistakes and thus the risk of cancer. Moreover, the higher concentration of growth hormones in tall people perhaps encourage abnormal cells to grow more quickly when they develop, thus making the cancer more dangerous.

In any case, if we turn these undeniable results upside down it means that every 10 centimeters we grow smaller is a considerable decrease in the chance we develop cancer. Perhaps nature is trying to tell us something.

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