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Thursday, 04 September 2008 22:10

Tall men more at risk from prostate cancer

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A British study has linked the increased risk of prostate cancer to the height of men, but concluded height poses less of a risk than other factors such as age, heredity, and race.


The article “Height and Prostate Cancer Risk: A Large Nested Case-Control Study (ProtecT) and Meta-analysis” summarizes the work performed by these British researchers. It appears in the September 2008 issue of the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

The twelve investigators studied the relationship of prostate cancer with height, specifically the length of legs and trunk, in British men between the ages of 50 and 69 years.

The study included 9,347 men (1,357 men with prostate cancer and 7,990 men without prostate cancer, as the control group). They also reviewed 58 other studies associated with their work.

The New York Times article “Height Linked With Prostate Cancer Risk,” states, “… the tallest men had a 19 percent higher risk of developing prostate cancer than shorter men. Using the shortest men as a baseline, the study showed that risk increased 6 percent for every additional 4 inches in height.”

Actually, the risk of developing prostate cancer increases by about 6% for every 3.9 inches (10 centimeters) in height a man is when compared to the men having the shortest heights within the study.

The research team--which includes Luisa Zuccolo, Ross Harris, David Gunnell, Steven Oliver, Jane Athene Lane, Michael Davis, Jenny Donovan, David Neal, Freddie Hamdy, Rebecca Beynon, Jelena Savovic, and Richard Michael Martin--states, “There was stronger evidence of an association of height with high-grade prostate cancer.”

How does height stack up with other factors, such as age, race, and family history? Please read on.




The British researchers found, however, that height had less of an impact on the incidence of prostate cancer when compared to other factors such age, race, and family history.

They added that a man’s height is a “modest” indicator for increased risk for prostate cancer, but is "more strongly associated" with a faster progression of the cancer once it has been acquired.

They conclude, according to the abstract to their paper, that, “These data indicate a limited role for childhood environmental exposures—as indexed by adult height—on prostate cancer incidence, while suggesting a greater role for progression, through mechanisms requiring further investigation.”

A researcher in the study, Luisa Zuccolo (Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol), stated, “Compared to other risk factors, the magnitude of the additional risk of being taller is small, and we do not believe that it should interfere with preventive or clinical decisions in managing prostate cancer. But the insight arising from this research is of great scientific interest.'’ [The New York Times]

Thus, they contend that their results may underlie a factor in the cause of prostate cancer. Consequently, they urge further research into this link (height and prostate cancer) as to possible causes of the disease.

Page three relates prostate cancer statistics for men in the United States and the United Kingdom, and states where most of the prostate cancer occurs in the world, and the least amount, too.




According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), prostate cancer is least common among Asian-American men and most common among African-American men, with Caucasian-American men falling in between.

The ACS also states that prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer found in American men, with skin cancer being first.

It is also the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, with lung cancer being first.

The organization estimates that about 186,320 new cases of prostate cancer in the United States will occur in 2008, with 28,660 men estimated to die of prostate cancer during that year.

The organization Cancer Research UK states that prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men within the United Kingdom. Over 34,000 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer in the U.K. in 2005. Nearly 60% of the cases diagnosed were in men over the age of 70 years.

Cancer Research UK adds that over 670,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer annually around the world. The highest rates are found in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Western and Northern Europe. The lowest rates are in East and South Central Asia.

The press release by the University of Bristol on the research study linking height and prostate cancer is found at "Height linked to risk of prostate cancer."

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