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Adult height

How tall a person is as an adult (adult attained height) is determined by genetic and early environmental factors. It is also affected by a person’s nutrition, especially during important periods of growth and development, such as infancy or adolescence.

Studies have shown that taller people have a higher risk for some types of cancer. It is still not clear exactly how height increases cancer risk or if other factors, such as smoking or socio-economic status (SES), influence the risk. It may have something to do with hormone levels in childhood, adolescence or adulthood. Taller people have more cells and this may lead to a greater chance for mutations to occur, which could result in cancerous cell changes.

A higher cancer risk associated with taller adult height has been reported for several cancers.

  • There is strong and convincing evidence that taller adult height is associated with increased risk of colon cancer and breast cancer (in post-menopausal women).
  • Taller adult height may also increase the risk of other cancers, such as cancer of the:
    • ovary
    • thyroid
    • breast (in premenopausal women)
    • pancreas
    • prostate
    • kidney


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The Canadian Cancer Society helps with expenses for children in cancer treatment and their families.

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