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Taller Women Have a Greater Risk of Breast Cancer and Melanoma, Says New Study

Taller Women Have a Greater Risk of Breast Cancer and Melanoma, Says New Study

A new study of five and a half million Swedish men and women found a link between height and cancer risk: The taller you are, the more likely you could be to get certain cancers, the researchers report.


It's a scary sounding conclusion, and although the findings have yet to be published, they have been widely reported since being shared at the annual European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology meeting in Barcelona last week. The U.S. National Library of Medicine and the "Wall Street Journal" both reported that for women, every additional four inches of height raises the risk of cancer by 18 percent (for men, 11 percent), according to the study. Researchers also found that tall women had a 20 percent greater risk of breast cancer. In addition, the risk of developing melanoma increased by roughly 30 percent for both men and women for every additional four inches of height.

According to the WSJ, the study's lead researcher Emelie Benyi, M.D., gave this potential explanation. From the article:

"Taller people have more cells that could mutate into tumors and are likely exposed to higher levels of growth hormones during adolescence that could trigger cancer."

Another reason may be that taller individuals eat more and previous studies link a high intake of calories to cancer.

The most important takeaway? Do not freak out.

"I don't think tall people need to be worried," Dr. Benyi told the WSJ. "There are many other factors that you can influence and that are likely to be more important."

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Photo Credit: Glamour, Getty Images