Friday, July 22, 2011

Tall People Are More Likely to Get Cancer

Tall people are pretty lucky.  According to experts, they are smarter, make more money, and even live longer.  But here's something for short people to hang their hat on....they are less likely to get cancer than tall people.  

A study this past week in The Lancet Oncology reported that for every 4 inches above 5 feet, women had a 16% higher risk of developing cancer.  Men were not studied in this particular report, but other studies have shown the same thing in men.  And it's all types of cancers that are increased, not just one particular site.  

The obvious question is why are tall people more prone to developing cancer?  Unfortunately, no one really knows.  There are several theories, but nothing concrete.  One theory is that tall people just have more cells than short people.  All it takes is one cell to go awry to start cancer so if you simply have more cells, there's a greater chance that one will go sour.  

Another theory is that tall people have higher levels of hormones, specifically the hormones that stimulate growth in childhood.  These hormones (called insulin-like growth factors) have been shown to increase cancers in laboratory animals and test tubes.  But really, it could be something completely different...for example, maybe tall people consume more pesticides over a lifetime (because they presumably consume more food) or have greater exposure to electromagnetic fields...or maybe this is Mother Nature's way of tossing short people a bone?  

Short or tall, skinny or fat, man or woman, black or white or other...the best we can do against cancer is eat lots of fruits and vegetables, exercise, use sunscreen, and avoid cigarettes.  And of course, encourage all those smart tall people to find a cure!

1 comment:

  1. I like the new look! I wonder what a study would say about people who grew faster when younger vs. people who "got taller" later into their teens?