A new study published in BMC Medicine suggests that taller men are at greater risk of dying from prostate cancer than shorter men because they are more likely to develop an aggressive form of the disease. Although the reason isn't clear, the team believe this finding may give clues to how prostate cancer develops and progresses.

According to the research, every 10 centimeters in a man’s height increased his risk of developing the aggressive form of prostate cancer by 21 percent, and death by 17 percent, The Guardian reported. In addition, being heavier was also related to worse outcomes, and every extra 10 cm on the waistline was associated with a 13 percent greater likelihood of having high-grade prostate cancer and an 18 percent greater risk of dying from the disease.

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“The finding of high risk in taller men may provide insights into the mechanisms underlying prostate cancer development – for example, related to early nutrition and growth,” lead researcher Dr. Aurora Pérez-Cornago from Oxford University told The Guardian. “We also found that a healthy body weight is associated with a reduced risk of high-grade prostate cancer and death from prostate cancer years later.”

For the study, the team looked at data on 141,896 white men, who were part of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men, with around one in seven men expected to develop the disease in his lifetime, The American Cancer Organization reported. In addition, prostate cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer death in American men, with about 1 man in 39 dying of the disease.

This is not the first time that larger body size was associated with increased cancer risk. For example, past research also found that obesity is a big risk factor for various types of cancer including liver, ovarian, and thyroid cancer. Although it's not clear exactly why obesity is so closely linked to cancer, the researchers suspect it may be related to the fact that obesity leads to chronic inflammation throughout the body and disturbs hormone levels.

In addition, being taller also carries other health consequences. A study conducted earlier this year found that women measuring over 5 feet 6 inches were three times more likely to have a stroke than shorter women. This is due to the extra strain on their larger hearts. In addition, weighing over 180 pounds and measuring over 5 feet 6 inches can further increase this risk, regardless of whether you have a healthy BMI.

Source: Perez-CornagoA, Appleby PN, Pischon T, et al. Tall height and obesity are associated with an increased risk of aggressive prostate cancer: results from the EPIC cohort study. BMC Medicine. 2017

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