Prostate cancer

10 September 2008

Height affects prostate cancer risk

Adult height is positively associated with prostate cancer, particularly aggressive disease, British investigators report.

Adult height, which can be an indicator of early life environmental exposures, is positively associated with prostate cancer, particularly aggressive disease, British investigators report in the current issue of the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.

"We do not believe that height itself matters in determining risk of prostate cancer or prostate cancer progression," lead author Luisa Zuccolo, from the University of Bristol, commented in a statement fro the American Association for Cancer Research. "We speculate that factors that influence height may also influence cancer risk, and height is therefore acting as a marker for the causal factors."

Following up on evidence from numerous small studies linking stature to prostate cancer risk, Zuccolo's group analysed data from the Prostate Testing for Cancer and Treatment (ProtecT) study. Their analysis included 1357 patients with prostate cancer and a comparison group of 7 990 men without cancer.

The researchers found no evidence linking height with low-grade tumours. "However, for high-grade (aggressive) tumours, we found strong evidence of a 23-percent increase in risk per 10 centimeter increase in height," which was statistically significant.

6% increased risk for every 10cm
The effect was even more pronounced for men whose height was more related to leg length versus trunk length. In a subsequent review of 58 other studies, including the ProtecT data, the researchers' calculations showed a 6% increased risk for any prostate cancer for every 10 centimeter increase in height.

When data from 13 studies were combined, Zuccolo's group found a 12% higher risk of advanced or aggressive cancer and fatal disease for every 10 centimeter increase in height.

The authors speculate that the association between stature and prostate cancer may be mediated by the effect of childhood nutrition on levels of insulin-like growth factor-1, which may influence prostate cancer growth. – (Reuters Health, September 2008)

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