(CNN)Tall people are at a greater risk of cancer because they have more cells in their body, new research has suggested.
Tall people at greater risk of cancer, study says
A person's risk of developing cancer increases by 10% for every 10 centimeters (4 inches) they are over the average height, the study said, because they have more cells which could mutate and lead to cancer.
Average height was defined in the study as 162cm (5 feet, 4 inches) for women and 175cm (5 feet, 9 inches) for men.
The findings match with previous research, which has also connected height to an increased risk of developing a range of health problems including blood clots, heart problems and diabetes.
Leonard Nunney, a professor of biology at the University of California Riverside, analyzed previous sets of data on people who had contracted cancer -- each of which included more than 10,000 cases for both men and women -- and compared the figures with anticipated rates based on their height.
He tested the hypothesis that this was due to the number of cells against alternatives, such as possible hormonal differences in taller people, which could lead to an increased rate of cell division.
A link was found between a person's total cell number and their likelihood of contracting cancer in 18 of the 23 cancers tested for, the study says.
The research also found that the increase in risk is greater for women, with taller women 12% more likely to contract cancer and taller men 9% more likely to do so. Those findings matched with Nunney's predicted rates, using his models, of 13% for women and 11% for men.
Colon and kidney cancer and lymphoma were among the types of cancer for which the correlation was strongest.
"We've known that there is a link between cancer risk and height for quite a long time -- the taller someone is, the higher the cancer risk," Georgina Hill from Cancer Research UK told CNN.
"What we haven't been sure of is why -- whether this is simply because a taller person has more cells in their body, or whether there's an indirect link, such as something to do with nutrition and childhood," added Hill, who was not involved in the study.
She said the study provides good evidence of the "direct effect" theory that the total number of cells does indeed cause the link.
"The methodology is good - they took data from large studies, which is important, and they looked at lots of different categories of cancer."
But she noted that the increase in risk of develop