Can Having Long Legs Increase Your Colon Cancer Risk?

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A new study suggests that it may be a possibility.

Previous research has linked a person's risk of developing cancer to his or her height, suggesting that taller people may be more prone to disease than their shorter counterparts. This new study makes similar, but slightly more nuanced claims.

The research demonstrates that men with longer legs have a 42 percent greater risk of developing colon cancer than those with shorter legs. The study revealed no significant differences in cancer risk based on leg length in women.

Prior research attributes the association between height and colon cancer risk to the the fact that taller people have larger colons, and therefore more colonic cells that increase the likelihood of malignancies. The new study explores a different explanation.

Led by Guillaume Onyeaghala, a graduate student at the University of Minnesota, the researchers concluded that the increased risk of colon cancer in taller people may be attributable to increased levels of growth hormones that affect leg length during puberty. Long bone growth during this period of development is due in part to insulin-like growth factor-1, higher levels of which also produces a higher risk for colon cancer.

Therefore, the researchers hypothesize that the increased presence of this growth hormone, rather than the larger surface area of the colon, is the decisive factor that increases colon cancer risk in taller individuals.

This body of research will surely require further studies and thorough analysis before it is proven, but it presents an interesting insight into the development of colon cancer and the biological risk factors that influence it.

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 photo credit: Walking Man via photopin (license)

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Topics: Colon Cancer News