Tall men over the age of 50 have a higher risk of prostate cancer than their peers, according to American researchers.
The study, by scientists at Harvard University, showed that taller men had a moderately higher risk of contracting the cancer and questioned whether there could be a link between the cancer and height.
Study author Dr John Gaziano, said it was too early to say whether stature would be a factor in developing prostate cancer, but said that diet and genetics could play a role.
“These findings are somewhat preliminary, but we did see a modest increase in risk.
“It raises the possibility that there is an association between height and cancer risk.
“Hopefully, these results will be confirmed in other studies and will lead someone to figure if there is a genetic predisposition to the cancer or a genetic marker.”
The results, announced at a meeting of the American College of Preventative Medicine, showed that height appeared to raise the risk of prostate cancer by 23% to 43% after the age of 50.
But the study, carried out on 1,634 men who contracted the cancer, showed no relationship between either body mass index or weight and the risk of prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is the second-biggest cancer killer in the US and one of the biggest killers in the UK.
An estimated 21,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in the UK and the disease affects one in 13 men.
But the disease’s mortality rate is relatively low because it is a slow-growing cancer and can be cured if caught early enough.
The average age at which a man is diagnosed with prostate cancer is about 70.
A spokeswoman for the Prostate Cancer Charity said: “It is another interesting study.
“Being tall is a measure of being well off and living longer is a measure of that.
“And we are more likely to get prostate cancer if we live longer.”
Revision date: June 21, 2011
Last revised: by Tatiana Kuznetsova, D.M.D.