Tallness heightens cancer risk

In some countries, shorter people seem to be discriminated against by fashion designs and furniture designs. How can a short person reach up to the heights of a pantry shelf in most kitchens. Yet, shortness in one country may be average height in another. Short people now have something to say to tall people. According to research, your tallness heightens cancer risk in long population studies. Is this true? If tallness heightens cancer risk, do tall people also have shorter life expectancies?

Tallness is often compared with higher social status, strength, intelligence, attraction, and positivity. Scientists are now discovering that tallness heightens cancer risk. Does that fare well for long term relationships?

Certain countries do not have as diversified populations as others. Sweden, Norway and Finland are 3 such European countries. They tend to track populations using longitudinal studies to determine possible outcomes of the population. A rather large and long Swedish study asserts that taller people may have higher risks of developing cancer.

A recent study of more than 5 million Swedish men and women (Between 1938 and 1991) suggests that the taller you are, the greater your risk of cancer. For every 4 additional inches of adult height, the study found that cancer risk was linked to an 18 percent increased cancer risk in women and 11 percent in men. Adult heights ranged from about 3 feet 3 inches to slightly more than 7 feet, the research revealed, and tracking began at age 22.

Most studies are mere observations of populations and longitudinal studies do not necessarily account for variability but, in the last couple years, gender-based studies have shown that taller heights may be positively correlated with cancer.

In 2013, the Women’s Health Initiative released a research document on height and cancer. The researchers studied more than 20,900 women ages 50 to 79 who participated in the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study, an on-going analysis of post menopausal women and the factors that contribute to their health. The women were divided into 5 groups from below five feet up to about 6 feet.

Results indicated taller women had a 13 to 17 percent greater risk of developing melanoma, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer and colon cancer. They also had a 23 percent to 29 percent greater risk of developing kidney, rectum, thyroid and blood cancers than shorter women in the study.

The Swedish study released in October 2015 broadens the context to include men and women and found tallness heightens cancer risk among all. The researchers point out that while tallness heightens cancer risk, there is no indication if those risks lead to higher mortality rates.

With each 10 cm of height, cancer risk increases by 18 percent in women and 11 percent in men, according to the researcher conclusions. For both men and women, the risk of developing melanoma increased by nearly 30 percent per 10 cm, while taller women had a 20 percent greater risk of developing breast cancer.

So why is it possible that tallness heightens cancer risk? It is hard to say conclusively. Some say it may be associated with hormones and chemicals that contribute to tallness. Researchers tend to surmise that taller people (while young) are exposed to higher levels of growth factors, which could possibly promote cancer development. This, though, has not been verified. Is it diet that contributes to cancer development among taller people.

Height is a complex trait, resulting from the interaction of the genes you inherit from your parents and the environment in which you grow and develop. It seems to appear that children born from immigrants of less developed countries tend to be taller in more developed countries. Social equality, access to healthcare, and generally higher standards of living have obviously been important and might explain height increases across Europe, the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand over the last 150 years.

A good part of the world is populated by people who are shorter than 5 feet 4 inches. Barring wars and natural disasters, life expectancy rates seem higher than tall people. Yet tallness among a greater population may be newer due to better accessibility to wide varieties of foods that contribute to height. Many tall people in those countries may live very long.

As the world changes from agrarian to more urban, heights among humans are likely to increase. It’s hard to imagine the benefits and consequences as natural wildlife becomes scarce and more pollution is made. While new research seems to validate that tallness heightens cancer risk, there are so many factors and variables that can occur over time. Some of those things may radically change what we know today.

There is no treatment or cure for being tall or short in height. For now, this scientific insight that tallness heightens cancer risk is great for conversation and further examination.