Height in adolescence as a risk factor for glioma subtypes: a nationwide retrospective cohort study of 2.2 million subjects

Neuro Oncol. 2021 Aug 2;23(8):1383-1392. doi: 10.1093/neuonc/noab049.


Background: Gliomas manifest in a variety of histological phenotypes with varying aggressiveness. The etiology of glioma remains largely unknown. Taller stature in adulthood has been linked with glioma risk. The aim of this study was to discern whether this association can be detected in adolescence.

Methods: The cohort included 2 223 168 adolescents between the ages of 16 and 19 years. Anthropometric measurements were collected at baseline. Incident cases of glioma were extracted from the Israel National Cancer Registry over a follow-up period spanning 47 635 745 person-years. Cox proportional hazard models were used to estimate the hazard ratio (HR) for glioma and glioma subtypes according to height, body mass index (BMI), and sex.

Results: A total of 1195 patients were diagnosed with glioma during the study period. Mean (SD) age at diagnosis was 38.1 (11.7) years. Taller adolescent height (per 10-cm increase) was positively associated with the risk for glioma of any type (HR: 1.15; P = .002). The association was retained in subgroup analyses for low-grade glioma (HR: 1.17; P = .031), high-grade glioma (HR: 1.15; P = .025), oligodendroglioma (HR: 1.31; P = .015), astrocytoma (HR: 1.12; P = .049), and a category of presumed IDH-mutated glioma (HR: 1.17; P = .013). There was a trend toward a positive association between height and glioblastoma, however this had borderline statistical significance (HR: 1.15; P = .07). After stratification of the cohort by sex, height remained a risk factor for men but not for women.

Conclusions: The previously established association between taller stature in adulthood and glioma risk can be traced back to adolescence. The magnitude of association differs by glioma subtype.

Keywords: BMI; adolescence; glioma; height; sex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Height*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Glioma* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Israel / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult