Source: The Australian, 23 November, 1998, p.3
JUSTINE FERRARI Health writer SHORT people finally have something to cheer about- new research shows that, in one important way, they have a distinct advantage over their taller peers. While being tall is generally something to be envied, it seems that the taller you are, the greater your risk of developing cancer. Having long legs just makes matters worse. Two British studies have identified a link between height and cancers unrelated to smoking, with one 30-year study of public servants observing 36 per cent more cancers among men taller than 6 feet (180cm) than in their more vertically challenged counterparts reaching 5'6" (165cm). The difference was even greater when measuring leg length from childhood, with a separate study spanning almost 50 years finding almost 80 per cent more deaths from cancer for every 3-4mm increase in leg length. The reason for the greater risk of cancer seems to be too much food in childhood. An editorial in the British Medical Journal accompanying the two studies says the underlying view of the research is that height is a proxy for early nutrition, particularly the amount of food, and childhood growth and development. "Taller people are more likely to have been exposed to a greater surfeit of dietary energy during maturing than shorter ones, notwithstanding the influence of heredity," it says. Animal experiments suggest that restricting nutritional intake, particularly in adult life, prolongs life and lowers cancer rates as a result of the lighter, leaner animals. NSW Cancer Council cancer epidemiologist Bruce Armstrong said links between height and the hormone- related cancers of the breast and the prostate had been noted previously, and involved the greatest risks in the latest two studies, suggesting hormones played a role in other non-smoking cancers. Professor Armstrong said it was difficult to say whether the amount children eat was inappropriate.
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