Attained height, sex, and risk of cancer at different anatomic sites in the NIH-AARP diet and health study

Cancer Causes Control. 2014 Dec;25(12):1697-706. doi: 10.1007/s10552-014-0476-1. Epub 2014 Oct 12.


Purpose: To examine the association of adult height with risk of cancer at different anatomic sites in a cohort of men and women.

Methods: The association of self-reported height with subsequent cancer risk was assessed in 288,683 men and 192,514 women enrolled in the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study. After a median follow-up of 10.5 years, incident cancer was diagnosed in 51,139 men and 23,407 women. Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95 % confidence intervals (95 % CIs) for the association of height with cancer risk.

Results: After adjustment for covariates, height was positively associated with increased risk of all cancers combined in both men [HR10 cm increase = 1.05 (95 % CI 1.04-1.06)] and women [HR10 cm increase = 1.08 (95 % CI 1.06-1.10)]. Several sites common to men and women showed significant positive associations with height: colon, rectum, kidney, melanoma, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. For other shared sites, the association differed by sex. For still other sites, there was no clear association with height. Positive associations were also observed with cancers of the breast, endometrium, and prostate.

Conclusions: Different patterns were observed in the height-cancer association by sex. Studies investigating the biological mechanisms underlying the association of height with cancer risk should focus on those sites that show a reproducible association with attained height.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Body Height*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet*
  • Female
  • Health Services for the Aged
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • National Institutes of Health (U.S.)
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology