Why being tall may increase your cancer risk

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Image credit: Ekely/IStockphoto

Taller people have a greater risk of cancer because they are bigger and so have more cells in their bodies in which dangerous mutations can occur, new research has suggested.

Scientists have put forward a number of different explanations for this, including that certain growth hormones could play a role in both height and cancer, or that environmental factors such as childhood nutrition or illness could be a factor.

“One of the major hypotheses was that something was happening early in life that was making your cells more susceptible to cancer and, sort of incidentally, causing you to be tall,” said Leonard Nunney, professor of biology at the University of California Riverside.

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But now Nunney says he has crunched the numbers to show it might be down to a simpler matter of size: tall people simply have more cells for something to go wrong in.

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Georgina Hill, from Cancer Research UK, said individuals should not be concerned about their stature. “A number of studies over the years have shown that taller people seem to have a slightly higher risk of cancer,” she said. “But the increased risk is small and there’s plenty you can do to reduce the risk of developing cancer, such as not smoking and keeping a healthy weight.”

Read full, original post: Tall people at greater risk of cancer ‘because they have more cells’

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