Height: the taller you are the more at risk you are of certain cancers

In recent decades, the average size of the world’s population has increased dramatically. An international team of researchers has analyzed the causes and effects for health and advises to take into account the size of individuals in primary prevention.

Height is determined largely by our genetics. However, today’s children are much taller than their ancestors. The biggest increase was observed in the Netherlands: Dutch men would be on average 20 cm taller than their counterparts 150 years ago.

The taller you are, the less risk you have of cardiovascular disease.

The study first shows that height has a significant impact on mortality from several major diseases, independent of fat mass or other factors. Each 6.5 cm increase in height is associated with a 6% decrease in cardiovascular risk, but a 4% increase in cancer risk. The authors suspect that this height increase is a marker of an overconsumption of energy-dense foods rich in animal proteins, at different stages of growth.

Less diabetes but more cancers

In utero, for example, a high intake of animal protein significantly activates the IGF1/2 system, which is involved in child growth. But this activation has other consequences. It makes the body more sensitive to the action of insulin, which favorably influences lipid metabolism and, ultimately, the cardiometabolic risk. On the other hand, it would make the bed of certain forms of cancer, in particular breast cancer, colon cancer and melanoma, by promoting permanent cell growth. For the authors of the study, the size parameter should therefore be taken into greater consideration in primary prevention.

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Teacher. Stefan N. et al., Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, 01/27/2016.


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