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24 February 2003
Prostate Risk Linked To Height
by George Atkinson

Greater height appeared to be positively associated with subsequent risk of prostate cancer in men over age 50, according to a study presented at the national meeting of the American College of Preventive Medicine Meeting in San Diego.

Michael Gaziano, M.D., Chief of the Division of Aging at Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Veterans Administration Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, together with six associates, investigated three categories of height (less than 70 inches, 70 to 71 inches, and 72 inches or taller), plus age (less than 50 years, 50 to 59 years, and 60 years and over), to the risk of prostate cancer.

The investigators used data reported by 1,634 men suffering from prostate cancer who had been enrolled in the Physicians Health Study over a 14-year follow-up period. (The Physicians Health Study was a randomized, placebo-controlled trial of aspirin and beta-carotene in 22,071 U.S. men.)

For the study, the researchers examined the effect of age on the relationship of height, weight, and body mass index (BMI) to prostate cancer risk. However, they found no relationship of weight and BMI to prostate cancer in this population.

"Increasing height appeared to be a risk factor for prostate cancer over age 50," said Dr. Gaziano. "Statistically significant risk estimates suggest that in older age groups the relationship between height and prostate cancer increases. However, those less than age 50 have no statistically risk of prostate cancer with increasing height."

For men over 72 inches in height and over age 50, there was a 32 percent greater risk of prostate cancer. Over 72 inches in height and over age 60, men faced a 24 percent greater risk.

Dr. Gaziano called the study's findings "preliminary" and said that more research would provide a clearer picture of these relationships.

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