There are a number of factors that increase the risk of contracting colon cancer, such as a diet that consists of large quantities of red meat, as well as smoking and a lack of physical activity. But, recent studies have now suggested, that long legs may also be a contributing risk factor of colon cancer.
Due to the fact, that height is related to a person’s sex, men and women were studied separately. The research showed, that men who have legs longer than 35 inches, have a higher risk of contracting colon cancer, than males who have an average leg length of 30 inches.
In the past, researchers have linked a person’s height to their increased risk of cancer. This type of research has been ongoing, and the latest studies have revealed, that men who have longer legs have more than a 40% increased risk of developing cancer of the colon than their shorter counterparts. When women underwent this same study, no significant change in the colon cancer risk factor was noted.
According to Guillaume Onyeaghala, a graduate student from the University of Minnesota, who has led this most recent research study, states, that there are two hypotheses that may explain more clearly, why height is a risk factor for colon cancer.
Previous research linked height and increased colon cancer risk to the fact that people who are naturally taller, have a larger colon, and with the increase of colonic cells comes the increase of potentially more malignancies. This new study offers a different view point.
The second theory indicates that the increased level of growth hormones (which affects the length of the legs, especially during growth spurts that are common during puberty) are also a driving factor of colon cancer. This long bone growth, that occurs during puberty is due (in part) to insulin-like growth factor-1 (levels increase during puberty), and this growth hormone also produces a higher risk for contracting colon cancer.
Because this particular growth hormone is similar in structure to insulin, and is produced primarily in the liver, this hormone is responsible for regulating the development of bone length in the body. A study, conducted at Harvard University, found that when levels of this hormone are higher than usual, the risk of cancers (prostate, colorectal, and breast) increased significantly.
It is for this reason, rather than the larger colon theory, that many researchers are saying, this is definitely the reason the risk of colon cancer is higher in males who are tall.
Researchers are leaning more toward the growth hormone theory, but the fact of a longer colon certainly cannot be ruled out as an increased risk for colon cancer. More research on this subject is required before these theories are totally proven, but it is interesting to observe the development of these theories, and the biological factors that can increase colon cancer risk.
Guillaume Onyeaghala and his team of researchers studied the connection between colon cancer and the length of legs. For previous data to use as reference point, this newly developed research team referred to the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study, where more than 14,500 participants (both men and women) were studied for 20 years. When this particular study began (in the 1980’s), all participants were free of any type of cancers. By the conclusion of the ARIC study, 344 individuals were diagnoses with some sort of colon cancer.
This new study is focusing on a person’s overall height, the length of their torso, as well as the length of their legs. Results have shown that colon cancer risk is elevated when associated with leg length only, rather than the overall height or sitting heights of participants. According to the figures and data that were analyzed, it was discovered that males, who had the longest leg lengths, were at a 42% higher risk of getting cancer, when compared to the men in the study who had the shortest legs.