Medicine

Tall people at greater risk of cancer "because they have more cells"

Tall people at greater risk of cancer

Study leader, researcher, University of California Riverside said that he tested his own hypothesis that growth increases the number of cells, and the increase in the number of cells directly increases the risk of cancer.

A link was found between a person's total cell number and their likelihood of contracting cancer in 18 of the 23 cancers tested for, the study says.

It's unclear why there is a link although the lead researcher suggests it may simply be because the taller a person is the more cells they have in their body.

On the other hand, experts made sure to highlight that there's only a tiny increase in risk compared with factors such as smoking. Some researchers have suggested that for each 10cm height within the normal stature for humans, the risk of cancers increases by roughly 10 percent.

"Whether that comes from a better diet or the fact that your parents happen to be tall doesn't matter ... it is purely a number of cells, however that comes about", he said, although he admits height differences only appear to partly explain why men are at greater risk of many cancers than women.

The results reveal that his predictions are in tune with the real-life observations, giving a 13 per cent increased risk for women for every additional 10cm in height compared with 12 per cent from observations, and an 11 per cent predicted increase in men for every 10cm taller compared with 9 per cent seen in real life. They assessed the risk of 23 cancers.

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Scientists are repelled from the average height of men is 175 cm and average height women 162 cm.

He added however that "unusually tall" people could benefit from additional screening: A seven feet two inches (229cm) man has double the risk of developing cancer than a man who is five feet two inches.

While height is largely determined by an individual's genes, Nunney said that childhood environment also has an effect, and therefore likely impacts associated cancer risks.

"There are no obvious reasons for these exceptions, although the author speculates that cell turnover rates may come into play for melanoma", Dorothy C. Bennett, director of the Molecular and Clinical Sciences Research Institute in London told CNN Bennett, who was not involved in the study, explained that pigment cells, the source of melanoma, divide and are replaced a little faster in taller people.

"But I can not at present think of any reason why this [faster division] should be so, but nor any other clear reason for the higher correlation with height", Bennett said.


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