Tall people may be more at risk for skin cancer, new research suggests
Why? Because you have more cells, the researchers say.
- A new study is out suggesting that the taller you are, the more at risk you are of certain types of cancers.
- The reason for this is a surprisingly simple one: you have more cells.
- 18 of 23 studied cancers saw a relation between height and cancer risk.
A recent Big Think piece noted that more cancers occur by random chance than for any other reason. This said, given the apparent complexity of the disease, it seems odd to encounter a study suggesting a blanket maxim for cancer risk. However, this is what Leonard Nunney of UC Riverside has done in The Royal Society of Biological Sciences. His claim? The taller you are, the more at risk you are of cancer. Why? Because you have more cells, and things may be more likely to go awry.
There's a caveat to this study. According to Peto's Paradox, mice have more of a risk of cancer despite having less cells. This report assumes that cancer risk increases in relation to height within a species. It poses an interesting hypothesis about correlation and then uses that correlation to guess at the causation.
The study leaves us wondering why this theory — that more cells equals more risk of cancer — is focused on humans and, peripherally, on dogs and not on an animal with even more cells? Is there anything in particular about the stability of cells in a human after a certain point that challenges the overall integrity of the body-wide cell-structure as other multidimensional factors at play in cancer continue?
The study doesn't necessarily make this point clear, nor does it go to particularly great lengths to explain the fact that — in the author's words — "skin cancer appears to show a consistent relationship to height that is too strong to be adequately described by the cell-number hypothesis in its simplest form," let alone the fact that pancreatic cancer, cancer of the oesophagus, stomach cancer, cervical cancer, and mouth cancer all seem to diverge from the expectations of the hypothesis, as well as the fact that natural breast size is not a determinant of breast cancer.
"A comparison of the observed and predicted effect of height on the risk of specific cancers."
Nevertheless: the predicted occurrence of cancer and the actual rates of cancer across multiple surveys conducted in the United Kingdom, the United States, Norway, Sweden, Austria, and Korea do seem to line up to a certain degree. The predicted cancer risk for men and women in relation to height compared with the actual cancer risk in relation to height was 1.11 versus 1.09 for men and 1.13 versus 1.12 for women. These numbers are part of an allometric rating, which is used to examine the relationship between body size and shape. The chart used in the study looks at the change in risk per 10 cm increase in height on a scale of 1 to 3. Using this chart, which you can see above, a height effect was found in 18 of 23 cancers examined.
As to why there was a stronger than usual link between height and skin cancer, Nunney believes that the additional effect impacting the results could well be an increasing cell division rate mediated through IGF-I, a protein akin to insulin that helps children grow, helps bones grow, and helps muscle mass develop. However, his suggestions — along with the other intriguing results here — merit further exploration.
All this said though, it's still safe to say that cancer doesn't discriminate. Just because someone isn't tall should they believe that they're beyond risk after reading this. Eat well. Don't smoke. Exercise. Visit the Doctor.
- Tall people at greater risk of cancer 'because they have more cells ... ›
- Cancer Risk Increases With Height - The New York Times ›
- Height, cell number, and cancer risk | Proceedings of the Royal ... ›
- Height and overall cancer risk and mortality: evidence from a ... ›
- Study supports cancer link with height - BBC News ›
Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."
- Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
- Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
- Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
A plan to forgive almost a trillion dollars in debt would solve the student loan debt crisis, but can it work?
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren has just proposed a bold education reform plan that would forgive billions in student debt.
- The plan would forgive the debt held by more than 30 million Americans.
- The debt forgiveness program is one part of a larger program to make higher education more accessible.
America isn't immune to attempts to remove books from libraries and schools, here are ten frequent targets and why you ought to go check them out.
- Even in America, books are frequently challenged and removed from schools and public libraries.
- Every year, the American Library Association puts on Banned Books Week to draw attention to this fact.
- Some of the books they include on their list of most frequently challenged are some of the greatest, most beloved, and entertaining books there are.
In most states, LGBTQ Americans have no legal protections against discrimination in the workplace.
- The Supreme Court will decide whether the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also applies to gay and transgender people.
- The court, which currently has a probable conservative majority, will likely decide on the cases in 2020.
- Only 21 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws effectively extending the Civil Rights of 1964 to gay and transgender people.
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