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Height Predicts Esophageal Cancer Risk, Study

Update Date: Sep 26, 2014 07:04 PM EDT

Height can predict a person's risk of developing esophageal cancer. New research reveals that taller individuals are less likely to develop esophageal cancer.

"Individuals in the lowest quartile of height (under 5'7" for men and 5'2" for women) were roughly twice as likely as individuals in the highest quartile of height (taller than 6' for men and 5'5" for women) to have Barrett's esophagus or esophageal cancer," lead researcher Aaron P. Thrift, PhD, from the Public Health Sciences Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA. "Interestingly, the relationship between height and esophageal cancer is opposite from many other cancers - including colorectal, prostate and breast - where greater height is associated with an increased risk."

The latest study used data from 14 population-based epidemiologic studies within the International Barrett's and Esophageal Adenocarcinoma Consortium (BEACON), including 1,000 cases of esophageal cancer and twice as many cases of Barrett's esophagus, and 2,000 healthy adults.  

After accounting for sex, age, education, smoking GERD symptoms or body mass index, researchers found an inverse association between height and Barrett's esophagus or esophageal cancer.

"The identification of risk factors, such as height, will allow us to create more sophisticated and accurate methods to quantify patient risk, which will hopefully be used in the future to decide who should undergo endoscopic screening for these conditions," Thrift concluded.

The findings are published in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

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