How your HEIGHT could increase your risk of cancer by 24%

TALLER adults could be at a higher risk of cancer, experts have warned.

The main symptoms of colorectal cancer are a change in toilet habits, but new research has found that height could also be a risk factor.

Cancer in the large bowel is known as colorectal cancer and around 34,000 people are diagnosed with the cancer each year in the UK.

It's still not known what the cause of colorectal cancer is, but various studies have stated that the frequency of bowel cancer is greater in countries which eat a diet high in fat and low in fibre.

It's also previously been found that high alcohol intake, particularly of beer, may be linked to this cancer.

Experts at John Hopkins Medicine looked at 47 studies which included 280,660 cases of colorectal cancer and 14,139 cases of colorectal adenoma – which is a glandular tumour of the colon and rectum.

They also looked at data of 1,459 people who were having colonoscopies.

This they said was to help explore the relationship between cancer and bacteria stuck to the walls of the colon, known as biofilm.

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After analysing the data, they found that overall, the tallest individuals had a 24 per cent higher risk of developing colorectal cancer than the shortest.

In the UK, data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) states thatthe average height of a man – is 5ft 9in (175.3cm) and a woman is 5ft 3in (161.6cm).

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the US says that the average height for men is the same as in the UK, but the average height for women is 5ft 4in.

The experts said that for every 10cm increase, there was a 14 per cent increased risk of developing colorectal cancer and 6% increased odds of having adenomas.

The authors said that being tall is a risk factor which is overlooked when it comes to colorectal cancer.

The symptoms of colorectal cancer you need to know

Experts at the Royal Marsden said the main symptoms to look out for are a change in bowel habits:

  • increased constipation
  • alternating periods of constipation
  • alternating periods of diarrhoea
  • blood or mucus in the stool
  • feeling like you haven't emptied your bowel
  • constant feeling that you need the toilet
  • pain in your abdomen
  • feeling tired.

They say that if your symptoms have lasted six or more weeks, including bleeding from the rectum, you need to see a specialist.

Source: The Royal Marsden

Associate professor at the division of gastroenterology and hepatology at Johns Hopkins Medicine, Prof Gerard Mullin said height should be considered when evaluating and recommending patients for colorectal cancer screenings.

The study was also adjusted to make sure other risks were taken into account.

This included demographic, socioeconomic and behavioural risk factors.

Other health indicators were also included such as a family history of colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, smoking and high alcohol consumption.

Prof Mullin added: "Greater awareness by the public and government will help promote more interest and funding for more research, which ultimately could change guidelines for physicians to consider height as a risk for cancer."

The researchers did however add that more studies needed to be done to say what height you would need to be to be eligible for colorectal screening.

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