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Taller Women at a Greater Risk of Developing Cancer

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First research told us that taller people do better in corporate America than shorter people: they make more money and they are employed in higher-ranking positions. Some research even suggests that taller men are more likely to be married and have children than their shorter counterparts. All this prejudicial treatment has been attributed to what some like to call "heightism". But newly emerging research tells a different story about the long-legged, and suggests that being taller has some drawbacks–at least for taller women.

According to a recent study, taller women are at a greater risk for many types of cancers compared to shorter women. Furthermore, the cancer risk rose by 16% for every 4-inch increase in height. The total risk for all types of cancer increased, as well as the risk for specific types including breast, ovarian, uterine, colon, and leukemia and melanoma. Overall, the researchers are still unsure about the height-cancer connection but hypothesize that growth hormones contribute to the relationship.

The study authors looked at the relationship between height and cancer by studying 1.3 million middle-aged women between 1996 and 2001. During an average 10-year follow-up, there were 97,376 cases of cancer. The women’s heights ranged from about 5’1" to 5’10" and results suggested that the taller women were at a greater risk for cancer regardless of the year they were born, socioeconomic status, body mass index, alcohol consumption, physical activity level, the year they started menstruating, and the use of oral contraception or hormone replacement therapy. The researchers are interested in learning more about the connection between height and cancer, but also noted that taller people are generally healthier overall and have a lower risk of heart disease compared to shorter people. The bottom line is that all people can reduce their risk of cancer by eating right, exercising, not smoking, and getting the recommended cancer screenings.