Taller People Have Higher Mortality From Cancer

Discussion in 'Scientific Studies' started by haidut, May 16, 2016.

  1. haidut

    haidut Member

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    I am sure this will ignite a firestorm again, but that is not my intention. Last week, I posted this study that claimed overweight people have lower mortality.
    People With The Lowest Overall Mortality Are Overweight
    That relationship has been claimed to be explainable by a proportion of skinny people being somehow "unnaturally" thin due to established chronic disease, hypothyroidism, excessive dieting / exercise, etc. While that may be true, I am not sure what the explanation for taller people's mortality can be given that they can't really choose to be taller through some type of activity and there are very few diseases that make people taller. Maybe cancer somehow makes people taller?? I doubt it, as apparently height used to be negatively correlated with cancer in the past.
    Peat did mentioned this in one of his very early articles, so this may be related to hypothyroidism. Anyways, I'd be very curious to hear some other possible explanations.

    Now, the Taller Die Earlier: The Curse of Cancer
    "...This study estimates the relationship between height and mortality. Individuals in the National Health Interview Survey 1986, a nationally representative U.S. sample, are linked to death certificate data until December 31, 2006. We analyze this relationship in 14,440 men and 16,390 women aged 25+. We employ the Cox proportional hazards model, controlling for birthday and education. An additional inch increase in height is related to a hazard ratio of death from all causes that is 2.2% higher for men and 2.5% higher for women. The findings are robust to changing survival distributions, and further analyses indicate that the figures are lower bounds. This relationship is mainly driven by the positive relationship between height and development of cancer. An additional inch increase in height is related to a hazard ratio of death from malignant neoplasms that is 7.1% higher for men and 5.7% higher for women. In contrast to the negative relationship between height and mortality in the past, this relationship is now positive. This demonstrates the success and accessibility of medical technology in treating patients with many acute and chronic diseases other than cancer."
     
  2. dfspcc20

    dfspcc20 Member

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    Wouldn't a simple explanation be that larger people (talking about non-adipose mass) have higher nutritional needs than smaller people?
     
  3. zooma

    zooma Member

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    The typical lanky look with gangly arms and legs, but a relatively small frame and head, is distinct from the well proportioned, tall, 'powerful' look IMO. The former is probably what is associated with hypothyroidism, shortened life and other health problems.
     
  4. OP
    haidut

    haidut Member

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    Why would that translate into higher cancer risk?
     
  5. dfspcc20

    dfspcc20 Member

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    I wasn't disagreeing; just trying to posit a simple answer before another "firestorm". I was thinking in terms of its relation to hypothyroidism, which you alluded to in the original post. If taller people are more likely to be hypothyroid, it'd make sense that they'd have poorer outcomes with cancer. Why are they more likely to be hypothyroid? I don't know- maybe because having more muscle, organ, bone, etc. mass means needing more protein, carbs, calcium, etc to maintain it. In the context of a degraded/contaminated food supply and poor dietary advice, being large doesn't seem to be advantageous.
     
  6. Liubo

    Liubo Member

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    More cells overall = more risk.
     
  7. Tarmander

    Tarmander Member

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    This is interesting...the first thing I thought about was the high attractiveness of taller males to females. Along with the higher chance of getting leadership positions and higher success in sales positions. By all accounts, being taller in society seems to convey advantages.

    However there are few people older then 90 who are tall, even accounting for bone loss. It seems taller people burn brighter, but for shorter to use a non scientific descriptive. Perhaps the amount of pituitary hormones necessary to gain height is maladaptive? What are the hormones necessary to stimulate height growth?
     
  8. Wilfrid

    Wilfrid Member

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    Thanks for that study, Haidut....I feel more confident now....:penguin:
     
  9. milk_lover

    milk_lover Member

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    6 feet does not happen to be very tall by any chance, right? :tongueclosed:
     
  10. Peata

    Peata Member

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    Yeah, I wonder what is considered tall? For men and women.
     
  11. Wilfrid

    Wilfrid Member

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    And what about 6'6"? I hope I still have my chance...
     
  12. lvysaur

    lvysaur Member

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    I think there's two "types" of tallness: tallness due to high but early bone formation, and tallness due to late-reaching development.

    I think that tall people with proportionally equal heads to match probably don't suffer from these consequences. Asian descended people tend to have large heads, long torsos, slow maturation, persistence of the thymus, and they have the longest life expectancies.

    The recent increases in height in western nations have been due mostly to increases in leg length.
     
  13. robknob

    robknob Member

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    It could be that the really tall people with pituitary issues skew the statistics. I think as long as your pituitary hormones are normal, you probably aren't at risk if you are tall.
     
  14. tara

    tara Member

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    Lower ratio of innervation to height? Further from CNS to periphery?
     
  15. sugarbabe

    sugarbabe Member

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    Isn't it pretty well known that small dogs live longer than big dogs? I just looked it up and saw this:
    "The reason why is still unknown, though Kraus suggests that there are several possibilities, including that larger dogs may succumb to age-related illnesses sooner. Also, larger breeds grow from puppies to adults at an accelerated rate, and this may lead to a higher likelihood of abnormal cell growth and death from cancer."
     
  16. tyw

    tyw Member

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    Here's an idea ;) Nothing confirmed, just throwing things out there. (And no conflict of interesting too :p since I'm 6'3'' myself)

    First, I want to look at the statement (I paraphrased this):

    Larger brain/body mass ratio => faster metabolism​

    This is technically called the Encephalization Quotient -- Encephalization quotient - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    What I'm interested in is Robert Becker's observations in Salamanders. These animals are unique in their ability to regenerate limbs -- ie: to be able to control cell differentiation in peripheral tissues, which is basically the opposite of cancer. (See 'The Body Electric' by Becker for details)

    The key characteristic that Becker identified was the degree of Cephalization -- Cephalization - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Higher Cephalization basically means more nervous system tissue concentrated in the CNS (Brain and Spinal cord), and less in the periphery. Salamanders have lower cephalization -- more peripheral nervous system tissue (proportionate to their body mass)

    This is relevant because Becker found that in Salamanders, it was the close proximity to nervous system tissue of all cells in the body, that allowed for differentiation of tissue, and thus regeneration of limbs. (again, see his book 'The Body Electric' for all the rigorous testing on live salamanders which he did)

    In "higher organisms", you basically have a lower percentage of nervous system tissue in the periphery, and more in the CNS. In this process, you lose regeneration capacity. (Note: that's across different species of organism. What about within the same species?)

    Would it then also be the case, that if you have less nervous system tissue in your periphery => less control over peripheral cell differentiation, and therefore more opportunities for de-differentiated / cancerous growth?

    Does the Brain/BodyMass ratio correlate directly to the amount of peripheral innervation (within a species)?

    Do taller people have less nervous system tissue in the periphery as a proportion of body mass?

    What about body surface area to heigh ratio vs cancer rate? (even if you are tall, if you have a higher surface area, which usually means lower Body Mass Index, this may mean closer proximity of any cell to the nervous system)

    Is it only the rate of peripheral tissue cancers that are increased in tall people? (as opposed to cancers in the brain)


    Anyway, good topic! ;)

    ....
     
  17. natedawggh

    natedawggh Member

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    Being six foot seven myself, and having had thyroid cancer, I can tell you exactly what it's from.

    It now seems obvious to me that during my teenage years I had already developed hypothyroidism. Though I was lean from excessive exercise (on the swim team), I had many symptoms of hypothyroidism such as depression, lethargy, and insomnia. I started greying at age 21 as well. I was only supposed to grow to 6'4"and since thyroid halts growth and stimulates adulthood it seems that my thyroid was either weak or took longer to come into development. The suppressed thyroid would have left me exposed to a higher level of estrogen, which stimulates growth, and never having changed dietary behaviors would have continued to exist in the same food and hormonal environment that enabled my above average height in the first place yet never allowed my body to antagonize/heal the effects of the delayed thyroid function, leaving me more susceptible to developing cancer.
     
  18. OP
    haidut

    haidut Member

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    All good points. However, if lower BMI means cells are closer to the nervous system then why is it that people with lower BMI have higher mortality specifically from cancer than even obese people? Also, isn't height primarily determined by levels of growth hormone during puberty? GH is definitely carcinogenic, so I wonder if taller people have higher GH in adulthood too.
     
  19. tyw

    tyw Member

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    Regarding height, one line of thought I don't know the conclusion to, which is relevant to your point about GH in a broader sense.

    I saw a study of British teens which claimed that girls who hit puberty earlier were shorter, and boys who hit puberty earlier were taller -- Relationships between age of puberty onset and height at age 18 years in girls and boys - Springer

    This brings up a possibly different observation in relating to Males vs Females.

    I think Ray made a pretty good argument for "puberty as the start of the aging process". If we can draw the correlation backwards (not 100% we can), but then at least we can say something like "If you are taller as a male, you may have started the aging process earlier in life". This could possibly outweigh any other factor.

    ----

    I actually have no idea about the relative risk as it relates to BMI ;)

    The Okinawans which I mentioned basically have low BMI, and long life and good health. As I mentioned in previous posts, I really think that this is a case of PUFA depletion and high metabolism.

    Now, if I view everything through a "Free-floating PUFA is bad" lens, which honestly is quite a fair statement given all the studies that you've cited over the years, does an "Intermediate BMI" actually put you at a sort of sweet spot, whereby there is a good balance between PUFA storage, limited PUFA release, decent (though not good) Insulin Sensitivity (and this actually counts for alot -- Insulin resistance is a spectrum)

    "Naturally Low BMI People" who also eat a lot of PUFAs (which is a good assumption), would also be metabolising a lot of that PUFA, producing proportionately more PUFA breakdown products, etc ....

    Again, just some ideas :D

    ....
     
  20. BigPapaChakra

    BigPapaChakra Member

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    Haven't read every post in this thread, but so far the discussion has reminded me of some articles I read recently when listening to one of Dr. Ron Rosedale's lectures:

    Rare Form of Dwarfism Protects Against Cancer | DiscoverMagazine.com
    Rare Form of Dwarfism Protects Against Cancer

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/17/science/17longevity.html?_r=0
    Ecuadorean Villagers May Hold Secret to Longevity

    "though cancer was frequent among people who did not have the Laron mutation, those who did have it almost never got cancer. And they never developed diabetes, even though many were obese, which often brings on the condition."

    Interesting notes by TYW; although height is clearly outlined in those articles, what's interesting is the proximity of the CNS to PNS due to the decreased height.

    Apparently there aren't many, if any studies at all regarding the longevity of those with Laron mutations, primarily because there are many cases of accidents, deaths from external circumstances, alcoholism in the region with many who have Laron mutations, etc. Interestingly, though, the lack of diabetes occurred simultaneously to a general trend towards obesity in these individuals.
     
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