LOS ANGELES - The taller a postmenopausal woman is, the greater risk she faces of developing cancer, according to a new study.
In a paper published Thursday in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, researchers concluded that a woman's cancer risk increased 13 percent with every 4 inches of height.
The study is the latest of several to report an association between women's height and cancer, according to lead study author Geoffrey Kabat, a cancer epidemiologist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.
While it is unlikely that height in and of itself promotes cancer, the multitude of factors that influence growth - such as nutrition, genetics and environment - are likely responsible.
"Height was significantly positively associated with risk of all cancers, (including) cancers of the thyroid, rectum, kidney, endometrium, colorectum, colon, ovary and breast, and with multiple myeloma and melanoma," the authors concluded.
The study was based on data from 144,701 women 50 to 79, who participated in the Women's Health Initiative study in the 1990s.
Researchers offered several possible explanations for the connection between height and cancer risk.
Height is associated with increased milk intake in childhood, and higher levels of insulinlike growth factor, which promotes cell growth and inhibits programmed cell death, authors noted.
Increased height might also be the result of exposure to steroid hormones. Authors noted, too, that taller women might have larger organs and skin surface, which may put more cells at risk of malignancy.