People who have longer legs have a greater risk of getting colon cancer, a study has found.

According to research, if you have long legs you are 42 per cent more likely to get the condition compared to someone who has far shorter legs.

This is partly because taller people have larger colons, which means they have a greater surface area where the condition can develop.

They also have higher levels of a growth hormone which has also been linked to colon cancer.


US scientists examined 14,500 men and women taking part in a long-running study in America. The research looked at the participants' height, torso and leg length and whether they developed cancer over a period of 20 years.

The only factor which had any bearing on cancer risk was the length of the leg, the results showed. In men the difference was particularly pronounced. Those with the very longest legs, at 35.4 inches, had a 91 per cent greater risk of colon cancer than those with the shortest legs - 31.1 inches.

And lead researcher Guillaume Onyeaghala, of the University of Minnesota, said people in the top quarter of leg length were 42 per cent more likely to develop the disease than those in the bottom quarter. The findings, which were released at the American Association for Cancer Research's annual meeting in New Orleans, suggested a growth hormone called 'insulin-like growth factor 1' - which is elevated during puberty and drives bone growth in the legs - is partly to blame for the increased risk.

However Mr Onyeaghala stressed that more research would be needed to confirm the link, adding: "First we are going to get the results ready and get them through the peer review process and then we can be more certain."

Colon cancer is an aggressive form of bowel cancer, with 30,000 people diagnosed in Britain each year. Nearly everyone diagnosed at the earliest stage of bowel cancer will survive. However only 54 per cent of people diagnosed with colon cancer survive for five years, compared to 87 per cent for breast cancer and 98 per cent for testicular cancer.

And two-thirds of people are diagnosed late - mainly because of a lack of awareness of the symptoms, which include weight loss, a painful abdomen and rectal bleeding.

Previous studies have shown that being tall comes with other health risks, and for each additional four inches of height beyond the average, a woman's risk of developing all cancers goes up by 13 per cent in later life. Tall people also tend to have more problems with circulation, and are often more prone to having issues with their joints.