Height link to melanoma

Tall women and those who put on weight are more likely to develop deadly melanoma, a study by Australian scientists has found.

Researchers are puzzled by the results of a major review of skin cancer patterns that found women's body size appears to be linked to their disease risk.

The team from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research reviewed eight studies involving almost 5000 women, including half with melanoma.

They found the tallest one-quarter of individuals in the study were 30 per cent more likely to have melanoma than shorter women.

melanoma"We found this risk greater among women less than 50 years of age," said study leader Dr Catherine Olsen, who collaborated with researchers in the United States, Britain, Canada and Italy.

Other studies have suggested taller women are also more likely to develop breast and colon cancer.

The researchers, writing in the International Journal of Cancer, said the link between height and cancer risk was not clear. Height could be related to hormones that may play a role in the development of cancer, they suggest height could be a marker for extra calories consumed in growth periods like childhood and adolescence, a cancer risk suggested in animal research.

The study, which involved 2083 women with melanoma and 2782 healthy controls, also found that putting on 2kg or more in weight boosted melanoma risk by 50 per cent. Dr Olsen said weight gain could contribute to risk by affecting hormone metabolism.

The team called for similar studies to identify the links between body size and cancer risk in men.

Melanoma, the most aggressive kind of skin cancer, is more common in Australia and New Zealand than any other country.



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