• Sweden's news in English

Swedish study: higher cancer risk for tall people

AFP/The Local · 2 Oct 2015, 12:35

Published: 02 Oct 2015 08:00 GMT+02:00
Updated: 02 Oct 2015 12:35 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

For every ten centimetres over one metre in height, the odds of developing cancer increased by ten percent in men and 18 percent in women, the research team reported at a medical conference in Barcelona on Thursday.

A Swedish woman 1.72 metres tall, for example, was about a third more likely to contract cancer than a woman of 1.52 metres.

Scandinavians are among the tallest people in the world. The average height of Swedish women is 167.7 centimetres while men are on average 181.5 centimetres tall, according to a Gothenburg survey released in 2013.

But there is good news. Another study released last week showed that cancer survival in Sweden continues to be far above that of other nations in Europe, with survival rates of 64.7 percent compared to an average 59.6 percent.

Thursday's findings, which have not been published in a scientific journal, support links found in other studies between height and elevated cancer risk – but the researchers said their work was based on the largest group of men and women yet.

“One [reason] is that taller people have a larger number of cells in their body, which could potentially transform to cancer. It could also be that taller individuals have a higher energy intake which has previously been linked to cancer,” Dr Emelie Benyi of the Karolinska Institute near Stockholm, who led the research, told the conference.

It was not clear if their findings would translate to people who live in different climates, with different diets and genetic backgrounds.

READ ALSO: Sweden top in Europe for cancer survival

The findings, unveiled at a meeting of the European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology, looked at birth, health and military records of 5.5 million Swedes born between 1938 and 1991. The tallest was 2.25 metres in adulthood.

It found that for every extra 10 centimetres, a woman had a 20 percent higher risk of breast cancer, while there was a jump of 30 percent for every 10 centimetres in melanoma risk for both genders.

A United States study in 2013, done among only women, had found a 13 percent higher risk of developing certain cancers for each 10 centimetres of height.

The new research was met with some scepticism by outside experts who questioned the methodology, and stressed there was a much stronger cancer risk link with factors such as genetics or obesity.

Story continues below…

Rather than tallness “causing” an elevated cancer risk, factors like growth hormones may be influencing both traits, they pointed out.

“It sounds an odd relationship at first glance, but it is actually very plausible that the risk of cancer in a person should be related to the number of cells in their body, since that determines the number of cells 'at risk',” Dorothy Bennett, a scientist at University of London said in comments issued by the Science Media Centre.

“A cancer arises by mutations from a single normal cell. Bigger people have more cells.”

Mel Greaves, a researcher at the Institute of Cancer Research in London, added: “Tall people shouldn't worry that they are destined to get cancer.”

For more news from Sweden, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Sweden: Russian warships in the Baltic 'worrying'
Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist. Photo: Vilhelm Stokstad/TT

Two Russian warships equipped with long-range missiles have entered the Baltic Sea after passing Denmark.

Why businesses are worried about Sweden's drone ban
A drone filming in Stockholm. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

The Local investigates what Sweden's new drone ban could mean for businesses in the country.

This is the new top boss of Swedish Ericsson
Börje Ekholm. Photo: Magnus Hjalmarson Neideman/SvD/TT

Telecoms giant Ericsson has appointed a new CEO after a turbulent year for the company.

These are Sweden's best universities: ranking
A new university ranking has been released. Photo: Cecilia Larsson Lantz/Imagebank.sweden.se

At least according to this global ranking, which picks 12 Swedish universities among the top-1000.

Swedish pharmacies restrict paracetamol sales for teens
The move is intended to cut paracetamol overdoses. Photo: Nora Lorek/TT

Sweden's pharmacies are banning teens under 18 from buying more than one pack of pills at a time.

The Local List
12 Swedish words with just awesome literal translations
A filthy-minded lobster, i.e. a snuskhummer. Photo: Gorm Kallestad/NTB scanpix/TT

One of our favourite things about the Swedish language is its wonderful compound words, which range from being utterly bizarre to making perfect sense.

Rwandan genocide suspect held in Sweden
A memorial centre in Kigali, Rwanda. Photo: Ben Curtis/AP

A man has been arrested in Sweden suspected of involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide which claimed 800,000 lives.

Sweden can extend border controls, EU says
A police officer carrying out a check at Sweden's border with Denmark. Photo: Emil Langvad/TT

EU countries including Sweden should be granted permission to extend temporary border controls by a period of a further three months, the European Commission has decided.

Nobel Prizes
'I'd say he's arrogant but I'd be lying': Swedes on Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan performing in France. Photo: David Vincent/AP

Almost two weeks have passed since Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature and he has yet to acknowledge the win. The Local asked Swedes what they think of the singer's silence.

Sweden cuts 2016 refugee forecast by thousands
A Swedish migration authority office in Stockholm. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

The country has also slashed its prediction for 2017.

Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Will Swedes soon be looking for fairtrade porn?
The Local Voices
'I simply don’t believe in nationality'
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Why we're convinced Game of Thrones is based on Sweden
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
jobs available