Tall women are more at risk from certain types of cancer once they reach middle age, research suggests.
An association was also seen with blood cancer multiple myeloma.
Researchers found that every 10 centimetre (3.94 inches) increase in height raised the risk of post-menopausal women developing any cancer by 13%, the US study showed.
Being 10 centimetres taller boosted the risk of kidney, rectum, thyroid and blood cancers by between 23% and 29%.
It increased the risk of melanoma skin cancer and cancers of the breast, ovary, womb lining and colon by 13% to 17%.
Height had a bigger impact on cancer risk than being overweight, according to the results published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.
Lead scientist Dr Geoffrey Kabat, from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, said: "We were surprised at the number of cancer sites that were positively associated with height. In this data set, more cancers are associated with height than were associated with body mass index (BMI).
"Ultimately, cancer is a result of processes having to do with growth, so it makes sense that hormones or other growth factors that influence height may also influence cancer risk."
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AXA’s research found that 79% of people were able to correctly identify breast lumps as a potential indicator of cancer. But a lump or swelling in any part of the body, including the armpit, neck, abdomen, groin or chest area, is worth having checked by a doctor.
Diarrhoea or changes in bowel habits are most likely to be caused by a stomach bug or eating something that disagrees with you. But if you’re noticing changes that have lasted more than a few days, for example if your bowel movements are looser for three weeks or more, or you notice any blood when you’ve been to the toilet, then make an appointment to get it checked out.
A lot of people get mouth ulcers when their immune system is low or they’re stressed. Generally they’re nothing to worry about and, as the lining of the mouth regenerates itself every couple of weeks, shouldn’t last long. But any ulcer that hasn’t healed after three weeks merits attention from your doctor or dentist. The same goes for any sore or spot that lasts for several weeks without healing – get it checked by a doctor.
Many men find it more difficult to pass urine as they get older, needing to go more often or urgently or being unable to go when they need to. These problems are usually caused by an enlarged prostate, which is a common condition that is not in itself cause for concern. But occasionally these symptoms can be a sign of prostate cancer – either way, men experiencing these symptoms should see their GP. Similarly, while urinary tract infections are the most likely cause of women having pain or difficulty passing urine, this should pass relatively quickly. If it doesn’t, then any sudden urges to pass urine or the need to go more often should be discussed with your doctor.
It’s natural for most people’s weight to fluctuate over time. But if you haven’t instigated any changes in your diet or exercise regime and have obviously lost weight, then talk to your doctor. And if you’re experiencing heavy night sweats you should seek medical advice – these don’t always have a sinister cause, and can be brought about by certain infections or medications, but they’re worth checking.
If you’ve coughed up any blood, you should see your doctor, regardless of the amount of blood or frequency. It can be a sign of lung cancer, so needs to be checked out.
Most of us will experience coughs or croaky voices at some point, normally when we’ve had a cold. But as with many other changes to your body, anything that hasn’t gone away after three weeks or so should be investigated.
AXA’s research found women were more likely than men to identify key cancer warning signs, including breast lumps, changes in bowel habits and irregular moles. But for both men and women, ensuring you’re aware of symptoms to keep an eye out for is important. Knowledge is power: understanding what you’re looking for means you can any changes checked out quickly.
AXA’s research found only 6% of men and 3% of women check their bodies daily for anything unusual. But understanding what’s normal for your own body is essential if you’re to spot when anything has changed. If you do notice changes that are persisting for a long time, or causing you pain and discomfort, then see your GP.
A sizeable 61% of people AXA spoke to admitted they’d delayed seeing their doctor when they spotted changes that could be potential flags for cancer. But early detection of any problems can make a huge difference if any treatment is then needed. Similarly, if changes are harmless your doctor will be able to reassure you. Overall, the sooner you go to see your GP, the better.
The researchers based their findings on data from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI), a major US investigation of health risk factors in women aged 50 to 79.
They looked at the effect of height in almost 21,000 study participants who were diagnosed with one or more invasive cancers over a period of 12 years
Other factors influencing cancer risk, including age, weight, education, smoking habits, alcohol consumption and hormone replacement therapy, were taken into account.
Of the 19 cancers studied, none showed a negative association with height.
The scientists pointed out that certain genetic variations associated with height were also linked to cancer risk.
More research was needed to improve understanding of how height-related genetic factors might predispose some individuals to cancer, they said.
Dr Kabat added: "Although it is not a modifiable risk factor, the association of height with a number of cancer sites suggests that exposures in early life, including nutrition, play a role in influencing a person's risk of cancer.
"There is currently a great deal of interest in early-life events that influence health in adulthood. Our study fits with this area."
Previous studies have also suggested a link between height and cancer in both men and women.
In 2011, a study of 10 common cancers by Oxford University scientists found a 16% increase in risk for every 10 centimetres a person was above a height of five feet.