Purpose: To assess the association between height and risk of cancer and cancer death.
Methods: The metabolic syndrome and cancer project is a prospective pooled cohort study of 585,928 participants from seven cohorts in Austria, Norway, and Sweden. Hazard ratios (HRs) and 95 % confidence intervals (CIs) for cancer incidence and death were estimated in height categories and per 5-cm increment for each cancer site using Cox proportional hazards model.
Results: During a mean follow-up of 12.7 years (SD = 7.2), 38,862 participants were diagnosed with cancer and 13,547 participants died of cancer. Increased height (per 5-cm increment) was associated with an increased overall cancer risk in women, HR 1.07 (95 % CI 1.06-1.09), and in men, HR 1.04 (95 % CI 1.03-1.06). The highest HR was seen for malignant melanoma in women, HR 1.17 (95 % CI 1.11-1.24), and in men HR 1.12 (95 % CI 1.08-1.19). Height was also associated with increased risk of cancer death in women, HR 1.03 (95 % CI 1.01-1.16), and in men, HR 1.03 (95 % CI 1.01-1.05). The highest HR was observed for breast cancer death in postmenopausal women (>60 years), HR 1.10 (95 % CI 1.00-1.21), and death from renal cell carcinoma in men, HR 1.18 (95 % CI 1.07-1.30). All these associations were independent of body mass index.
Conclusion: Height was associated with risk of cancer and cancer death indicating that factors related to height such as hormonal and genetic factors stimulate both cancer development and progression.