Height and Risk of Adult Cancers: a Review

Isabel dos Santos Silva, Rachel Denholm

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Recent prospective studies have revealed modest positive associations of adult height with risk of all cancers as well as risk of cancers at most anatomical sites, including cancers of the colon, rectum, liver, skin melanoma, breast, corpus uteri, ovary, prostate, kidney, central nervous system, thyroid, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma and leukaemia. These associations, which do not appear to be explained by bias or confounding, highlight the importance of early life exposures in the aetiology of cancer. The mechanisms underlying the height-cancer associations are not known but height may act as a surrogate for genetic and other biological processes or as a proxy for environmental factors associated with risk, with the latter acting at, or accumulating through, different stages of life (i.e. prenatal period to adolescence). Clarification of these mechanisms will be challenging, but it will provide additional insights about the pathogenesis of cancer and possibly also novel avenues for prevention.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-200
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Epidemiology Reports
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2016


  • Height
  • Stature
  • Human growth
  • Cancer incidence
  • Cancer mortality

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