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JOURNAL: American College of Preventive Medicine
AUTHORS: Dr. John Gaziano
ABSTRACT: After age 50, tall men have a moderately higher risk of developing prostate cancer than their shorter peers.
COMMENTARY: Using data from an ongoing health study of more than 22,000 US physicians, researchers at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital measured the relationship between body size and age to the risk of prostate cancer in 1,634 men who developed the cancer.
Prostate cancer is the second-biggest cancer killer of men in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that 220,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in 2003 and nearly 30,000 men will die from it.
But the disease's mortality rate is relatively low because it is a slow-growing cancer, easily cured if caught early.
The average age at which a man is diagnosed with prostate cancer is 70, but African Americans and men with a family history of the disease are at higher risk.
The study population of US physicians included about 7% to 8% minorities, a number too small to draw conclusions.
The Harvard researchers looked at three categories of height: under 5 ft. 10 inches, between 5 ft. 10 and 5 ft. 11 and taller than 5 ft. 11. Age was stratified to younger than 50 years, 50 years to 59 years, and over 60 years.
The results, announced at a meeting in San Diego of American College of Preventive Medicine, show that tallness appeared to raise the risk of prostate cancer by 23% to 43%, but only over age 50.
The relative risk is fairly modest compared to other high risk groups--men with a family history of prostate cancer have an increased risk of 200% to 300%, Gaziano noted.
The study detected no relationship between either body mass index or weight and the risk of prostate cancer.