If You’re Taller Than This, Your Risk Of Aggressive Prostate Cancer Spikes
Your height may have more to do with your health than you may think: Taller guys seem to be at higher risk of aggressive prostate cancer, a new study published in BMC Medicine found.
In the study, researchers analyzed the heights, body mass indexes (BMI), and waist circumferences of over 140,000 men. Then, over a 14-year follow-up, they tracked how many of them developed prostate cancer and how many died from the disease.
The findings? Taller guys were more likely to develop aggressive prostate cancer and to die from the disease—but they were no more likely than shorter guys to develop prostate cancer overall.
For context, guys who made up the tallest fifth of the sample—averaging just over 6’0” tall—were 54 percent more likely to develop high-grade, or aggressive, prostate cancer than the shortest guys, who averaged just over 5’4.” They were also 43 percent more likely to die from prostate cancer than the shortest men were. (Ejaculating this many times a month can cut your prostate cancer risk.)
What’s more, for every additional four inches in height, the risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer and dying from prostate cancer increased by 21 percent and 17 percent, respectively.
Your waist circumference—a better marker of excess fat than BMI—likely plays a role, too. Men in the top fifth of waist size, averaging nearly 43 inches, were 43 percent more likely to develop aggressive prostate cancer than those in the smallest waist category, averaging about 32 inches. They were also 55 percent more likely to die from prostate cancer than the more svelte guys were.
And like with height, there was an increase seen for each additional four inches in waist size: a 13 percent increase in high-grade prostate cancer, and an 18 percent increase in dying from prostate cancer. (Find out 4 things most guys get wrong about skin cancer.)
Height is determined both by genetic factors and early-life nutrition, both of which may play a role in prostate cancer development, the researchers write. For instance, taller guys may have higher insulin-like growth factor-1, a protein that plays an important role in childhood growth—and which may also trigger cancer cell growth. Plus, taller guys simply have more cells, making for a greater chance of some of them growing out of control.
As for guys with high waist circumferences, the excess fat may trigger inflammation, which can increase your prostate cancer risk. It’s also linked to higher levels of insulin—another potential factor linked to a higher likelihood of prostate cancer. (For more health news, sign up for our Daily Dose newsletter.)
There’s nothing you can do about your height, and more research needs to be done to determine whether reducing your excess fat can cut your risk. In the meantime, work on lowering your risk by cutting cigarettes, drinking two or fewer alcoholic drinks a day, and exercising at a moderate intensity for at least 150 minutes a week—all factors linked to deadly prostate cancer prevention, as we reported.