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Can Height Increase the Risk of Certain Diseases?

By Dian Brannen, 9:00 am on

Genetics can play a role in whether or not a person is at risk for developing non-communicable diseases like diabetes and cancer. Recent research focuses on height, a genetic factor not usually given much consideration. Findings suggest tall people have a lower risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease and a greater risk of developing cancer.

Height and an Increased Cancer Risk

According to Allentown senior care professionals, a comprehensive study of the medical impact of height shows mixed results. While the mortality rate for heart disease decreases by 6 percent for every 2.5 inches of height, the mortality rate for cancer increases by 4 percent. Body fat and other factors don’t seem to have an impact on the correlation between height and the increased risk of developing cancer.

IGF System and Cancer Risk

The Insulin-like growth factor (IGF) plays an important role in tissue growth and development. Various studies note a link between certain levels of IGF and cancer risk. Tall people tend to be more sensitive to insulin, which may explain why there’s a lower rate of heart disease and type 2 diabetes within this demographic. Yet, according to researchers, insulin sensitivity may facilitate cell growth, increasing the risk of abnormal cell growth.

Encouraging Preventative Efforts

Simply being tall doesn’t automatically mean a person will develop cancer at some point. The findings do, however, provide an added incentive for doctors to be more observant with patients at a height above what’s considered average and for patients to consider the following preventative measures:

  •  Receiving annual cancer screenings
  •  Being mindful of dietary needs
  •  Getting regular exercise

These findings on height and an increased cancer risk are significant since the average height of the global population has been steadily increasing through the decades. In the Netherlands, for instance, men are about 8 inches taller than they were more than a century ago.

Interested in learning more about senior wellness? Reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of respite, hourly, and live-in home care in Allentown. Our comprehensive care services include healthy meal preparation, help with physical activity, cognitive stimulation, and companionship. For more information, give us a call at 484-350-3874 and speak with a friendly Care Manager today.