Release Date 30 SEP 2015
Draft Report Compiled by
In This Issue:
1. Acetic acid, found in vinegar, shown to be effective against bacteria found in burn wounds
2. Researchers explore cocoa as novel dietary source for prevention of cognitive deterioration in AD
3. UI Health validates cure for sickle cell in adults
4. Antibacterial soap no more effective than plain soap at reducing bacterial contamination
5. Antidepressant was misrepresented as safe for adolescents
6. Beetroot juice improves sprinting and decision-making during exercise
7. High dietary fiber intake linked to health promoting short chain fatty acids
8. Four gut bacteria decrease asthma risk in infants
9. Vitamin D3 supplementation helps women build muscle even after menopause
10. Link between height and cancer
Public Release: 15-Sep-2015
Acetic acid, found in vinegar, shown to be effective against bacteria found in burn wounds
University of Birmingham
Highly diluted acetic acid, an active ingredient of household vinegar, has been shown to be an effective alternative agent to prevent infection and kill bacteria found in burn wounds.
Researchers from the University of Birmingham and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Surgical Reconstruction and Microbiology Research Centre (SRMRC) investigated the antibacterial activity of acetic acid against key burn wound colonising organisms growing both planktonically and as biofilms.
Burns are a common traumatic injury and prone to becoming infected due to loss of a normal skin barrier. Local infection of the burn wound and subsequent sepsis (blood poisoning) are key concerns for patients, with sepsis the leading cause of death among patients with burn wounds.
Infections of burn wounds are difficult to treat with traditional antibiotics as they do not effectively reach the wound, and the infecting organisms are often highly antibiotic resistant.
The study, published in PLOS ONE, demonstrated that low concentrations of acetic acid can be used to treat biofilms, and therefore could be used as alternatives to topical (surface applied) antimicrobials and traditional antimicrobial dressings for preventing bacterial colonisation of burns.
The current use of acetic acid in clinical settings has been limited due to concerns of patient tolerability. The finding that it is effective at far lower concentrations than previously thought therefore offers hope for the development of novel treatments.
Miss Fenella Halstead, NIHR SRMRC Clinical Scientist at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, explained, “As resistance to antibiotics grows, we need to find ways to replace them with alternative topical agents that can kill bacteria and help our burns patients. The evidence in this study offers great promise to be a cheap and effective measure to do just that.”
29 isolates of common wound-infecting pathogens including Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Acinetobacter baumannii, Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus faecalis, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Enterobacter spp. were grown in the laboratory.
The ability of highly diluted acetic acid to inhibit growth of pathogens, prevent the formation of biofilms, and then eradicate pre-formed biofilms was tested on each isolate. Low concentrations of acetic acid (0.16-0.3%) were shown to be able to inhibit growth of all strains, prevent them from forming biofilms (bacteria attached to a surface) and also to eradicate mature biofilms for all isolates after three hours of exposure.
Previous clinical use of acetic acid as an antimicrobial treatment has used much higher concentrations of 2.5%. Miss Halstead continued, “A key way in which bacteria cause infection is in a biofilm; where instead of living as single cells they form a community in the form of a slimy layer that we see on a wound, on a valve or on a catheter, for instance.”
“As much as eighty percent of infections in the body are due to these biofilms which, typically, are even more resistant to antibiotics because they essentially have safety in numbers and their metabolic rate is a lot slower. For that reason, seeing that acetic acid was effective against all types of these pathogens was really great.”
The team are now designing clinical trials with acetic acid in which they will test plain dressings soaked with acetic acid, against the more commonly used silver-based dressings. A further study will test the effectiveness of two specific concentrations of acetic acid on patients at the Healing Foundation Centre for Burns Research based at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Dr Mark Webber, from the University of Birmingham, added, “Acetic acid, or more commonly, vinegar, has been used sporadically in medicine for the past 6000 years – being successfully implemented to treat plague, ear, chest, and urinary tract infections. So in that sense it’s a well-known antimicrobial which has seen sporadic clinical application. Our work now gives a firm evidence base to guide the development of treatments which promise to be cheap and effective”
“These new trials will hopefully provide clarity on how this can be implemented for burns patients across the world. What we can say however, is more work still needs to be done to determine the best way in which to use acetic acid or similar chemicals to treat and prevent bacterial infection. We also need to study the way in which bacteria may adapt or evolve over time to exposure to these acids to again understand how they are effective and ensure any clinical usage is designed to minimise emergence of resistance as we have seen with antibiotics.”
The team stress that people should not self-apply vinegar in the case of a burn however; but should go to hospital as normal. The acetic acid treatment would only be required in serious burns where infection can become a problem.
Researchers explore cocoa as novel dietary source for prevention of cognitive deterioration in AD
Amsterdam, NL, September 9, 2015 – The potential benefits of dietary cocoa extract and/or its final product in the form of chocolate have been extensively investigated in regard to several aspects of human health. Cocoa extracts contain polyphenols, which are micronutrients that have many health benefits, including reducing age-related cognitive dysfunction and promoting healthy brain aging, among others.
Dr. Giulio Maria Pasinetti, MD, PhD, Saunders Family Chair and Professor of Neurology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Director of Biomedical Training at J.J. Peters Bronx VA Medical Center, is leading author of a recent paper entitled “Recommendations for development of new standardized forms of cocoa breeds and cocoa extract processing for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease,” to be published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. This research suggests that “there is strong scientific evidence supporting the growing interest in developing cocoa extract, and potentially certain dietary chocolate preparations, as a natural source to maintain and promote brain health, and in particular to prevent age-related neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common form of age-related dementia affecting an estimated 44 million people worldwide.”
Previous studies from Dr. Pasinetti’s laboratory and others suggest that certain cocoa extract preparations may prevent or possibly delay Alzheimer’s disease in animal experimental models of the disease, in part by inhibiting the generation and promoting the clearance of toxic proteins, including β-amyloid (Aβ) and abnormal tau aggregates, in the brain through mechanisms mediated by polyphenols. Most importantly, the role of cocoa polyphenols in preventing abnormal accumulation of toxic protein aggregates in the brain would play a pivotal role in preventing the loss of synapses that are critical for functional connection among neurons. Recent clinical studies appear to confirm the potential beneficial role of certain cocoa extracts in delaying cognitive aging. The benefits of cocoa polyphenols in preventing synapse loss and, therefore, in preserving/restoring synaptic function may provide a viable and important strategy for preserving cognitive function and, thereby, protecting against the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
In spite of the promises of cocoa polyphenols for treating and/or preventing Alzheimer’s disease, Dr. Pasinetti hypothesizes in his new publication that there is a need for multidisciplinary collaborative efforts involving cocoa producers, wholesalers, and the biomedical community if we want to succeed in the development of cocoa extract for health benefits. For example, there are still major issues relating to the diminishing global supply of cocoa and the lack of consistency and reproducibility of cocoa extract processing, which should be carefully addressed. Changes in growth, climate/conditions, and cocoa plant diseases are decreasing the supply of cocoa. To address this, new breeds of cocoa, engineered to be fruitful, more resistant to disease, and more flavorful, are currently being investigated. Furthermore, little is known about how cocoa processing may influence the biological effect of cocoa extracts. Evidence suggests that certain procedures used in cocoa processing can significantly influence its polyphenol content, ultimately influencing its biological activity. Interestingly, two of the most common processing techniques for the chocolate we consume have been reported to result in the loss of as much as 90% of the polyphenols in cocoa.
Dr. Pasinetti notes that ongoing interdisciplinary research will provide an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen our understanding of the beneficial roles of cocoa polyphenols and improve cocoa development and processing in order to promote healthy brain aging and possibly prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
UI Health validates cure for sickle cell in adults
University of Illinois at Chicago
Physicians at the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System have cured 12 adult patients of sickle cell disease using a unique procedure for stem cell transplantation from healthy, tissue-matched siblings.
The transplants were the first to be performed outside of the National Institutes of Health campus in Maryland, where the procedure was developed. Physicians there have treated 30 patients, with an 87 percent success rate. The results of the phase I/II clinical trial at UI Health, in which 92 percent of treated patients were cured, are published online in the journal Biology of Blood & Marrow Transplantation.
The new technique eliminates the need for chemotherapy to prepare the patient to receive the transplanted cells and offers the prospect of cure for tens of thousands of adults suffering from sickle cell disease.
About 90 percent of the approximately 450 patients who have received stem cell transplants for sickle cell disease have been children. Chemotherapy has been considered too risky for adult patients, who are often more weakened than children by the disease.
“Adults with sickle cell disease are now living on average until about age 50 with blood transfusions and drugs to help with pain crises, but their quality of life can be very low,” says Dr. Damiano Rondelli, chief of hematology/oncology and director of the blood and marrow transplant program at UI Health, and corresponding author on the paper.
“Now, with this chemotherapy-free transplant, we are curing adults with sickle cell disease, and we see that their quality of life improves vastly within just one month of the transplant,” said Rondelli, who is also the Michael Reese Professor of Hematology in the UIC College of Medicine. “They are able to go back to school, go back to work, and can experience life without pain.”
Sickle cell disease is inherited. It primarily affects people of African descent, including about one in every 500 African Americans born in the U.S. The defect causes the oxygen-carrying red blood cells to be crescent shaped, like a sickle. The misshapen cells deliver less oxygen to the body’s tissues, causing severe pain and eventually stroke or organ damage.
Doctors have known for some time that bone marrow transplantation from a healthy donor can cure sickle cell disease. But few adults were transplanted because high-dose chemotherapy was needed to kill off the patients’ own blood-forming cells — and their entire immune system, to prevent rejection of the transplanted cells, leaving patients open to infection.
In the new procedure, patients receive immunosuppressive drugs just before the transplant, along with a very low dose of total body irradiation — a treatment much less harsh and with fewer potentially serious side effects than chemotherapy.
Next, donor cells from a healthy and tissue-matched sibling are transfused into the patient. Stem cells from the donor produce healthy new blood cells in the patient, eventually in sufficient quantity to eliminate symptoms. In many cases, sickle cells can no longer be detected. Patients must continue to take immunosuppressant drugs for at least a year.
In the reported trial, the researchers transplanted 13 patients, 17 to 40 years of age, with a stem cell preparation from the blood of a tissue-matched sibling. Healthy sibling donor-candidates and patients were tested for human leukocyte antigen, a set of markers found on cells in the body. Ten of these HLA markers must match between the donor and the recipient for the transplant to have the best chance of evading rejection.
In a further advance of the NIH procedure, physicians at UI Health successfully transplanted two patients with cells from siblings who matched for HLA but had a different blood type.
In all 13 patients, the transplanted cells successfully took up residence in the marrow and produced healthy red blood cells. One patient who failed to follow the post-transplant therapy regimen reverted to the original sickle cell condition.
None of the patients experienced graft-versus-host disease, a condition where immune cells originating from the donor attack the recipient’s body.
One year after transplantation, the 12 successfully transplanted patients had normal hemoglobin concentrations in their blood and better cardiopulmonary function. They reported less pain and improved health and vitality.
Four of the patients were able to stop post-transplantation immunotherapy without transplant rejection or other complications.
“Adults with sickle cell disease can be cured without chemotherapy – the main barrier that has stood in the way for them for so long,” Rondelli said. “Our data provide more support that this therapy is safe and effective and prevents patients from living shortened lives, condemned to pain and progressive complications.”
Public Release: 16-Sep-2015
Antibacterial soap no more effective than plain soap at reducing bacterial contamination
Oxford University Press
Scientists in Korea have discovered that using antibacterial soap when hand-washing is no more effective than using plain soap, according to a paper published today in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.
The study examined the effect of triclosan (the most commonly used active antiseptic ingredient used in soap) on bacteria in two ways. The first was to examine the bactericidal effects of triclosan in soaps against all 20 strains, and the second compared the ability of antibacterial and non-antibacterial soap to remove bacteria from human hands, by using 16 healthy adult volunteers. The results of the study indicate that there is no significant difference between the effects of plain soap and antibacterial soap when used under ‘real life’ conditions.
The scientists recreated the conditions of human hand washing by exposing the bacteria for 20 seconds at 22°C (room temperature) and 40°C (warm temperature) to triclosan with a concentration of 0.3% – the maximum allowed by law. There were significantly great effects after more than nine hours, but not during the short time required for hand washing. Lead author on the paper, Dr. Rhee, commented that: “advertisement and consumer belief regarding the effectiveness of antibacterial soaps needs to be addressed.”
Public Release: 16-Sep-2015
Antidepressant was misrepresented as safe for adolescents
University of Adelaide
A University of Adelaide led study has found that a psychiatric drug claimed to be a safe and effective treatment for depression in adolescents is actually ineffective and associated with serious side effects.
Professor Jon Jureidini, from the University of Adelaide’s newly created Critical and Ethical Mental Health Research Group (CEMH) at the Robinson Research Institute, led a team of international researchers who re-examined Study 329, a randomised controlled trial which evaluated the efficacy and safety of paroxetine (Aropax, Paxil, Seroxat) compared with a placebo for adolescents diagnosed with major depression.
Study 329, which was funded by SmithKline Beecham (now GlaxoSmithKline), was reported in 2001 as having found that paroxetine was effective and safe for depression in adolescents. However, Professor Jureidini’s reanalysis showed no advantages associated with taking paroxetine and demonstrated worrying adverse effects.
“Although concerns had already been raised about Study 329, and the way it was reported, the data was not previously made available so researchers and clinicians weren’t able to identify all of the errors in the published report,” says Professor Jureidini.
“It wasn’t until the data was made available for re-examination that it became apparent that paroxetine was linked to serious adverse reactions, with 11 of the patients taking paroxetine engaging in suicidal or self-harming behaviours compared to only one person in the group of patients who took the placebo,” he says. “Our study also revealed that paroxetine was no more effective at relieving the symptoms of depression than a placebo.”
“This is highly concerning because prescribing this drug may have put young patients at unnecessary risk from a treatment that was supposed to help them,” he says.
Professor Jureidini says it is important that research data and protocols are accessible so they can be reviewed and scrutinised.
“In 2013, an international researcher consortium called for undisclosed outcomes of trials to be published and for misleading publications to be corrected. This initiative was called restoring invisible and abandoned trials (RIAT),” says Professor Jureidini.
“Study 329 was one of the trials identified as in need of restoration, and because the original funder was not interested in revisiting the trial, our research group took on the task.
“Our reanalysis of Study 329 came to very different conclusions to those in the original paper,” he says. “We also learnt a lot about incorrect reporting and the considerable fall out that can be associated with distorted data.”
“Regulatory research authorities should mandate that all data and protocols are accessible,” he says. “Although concerns about patient confidentiality and ‘commercial in confidence’ issues are important, the reanalysis of Study 329 illustrates the necessity of making primary trial data available to increase the rigour of evidence-based research,” he says.
Professor Jureidini’s study was published in the leading medical journal BMJ today.
Public Release: 18-Sep-2015
Beetroot juice improves sprinting and decision-making during exercise
Rugby players take note: Drinking high nitrate beetroot juice improves both sprint performance and decision-making during prolonged intermittent exercise such as rugby and football
University of Exeter
Rugby players take note: drinking high nitrate beetroot juice improves both sprint performance and decision-making during prolonged intermittent exercise such as rugby and football, according to scientists from the University of Exeter.
As excitement mounts for the Rugby World Cup, the research, published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology and available on PubMed, adds further weight to the case for beetroot juice as a superfood for elite both elite and amateur sports players and athletes. Previously, the team at Exeter has regular beetroot juice drinks can help people to exercise for 16% longer.
In the latest study,16 male team sport players received 140ml of Beet It Sport, high nitrate beetroot juice* for seven days.
On day seven, the sportsmen, who were all members of rugby, hockey or football teams, completed an intermittent sprint test which consisted of two 40 minute sessions of repeated two minute blocks. This consisted of a six second all-out sprint, 100 seconds active recovery and 20 seconds of rest, on an exercise bike. At the same time, they were given cognitive tasks designed to test how accurately and how fast they made decisions.
The participants carried out the same tests after drinking nitrate-rich beetroot juice and again after drinking a placebo version with the nitrate stripped out. Researchers found those who had consumed the nitrate-rich version saw an improvement in both sprint performance (3.5%) and speed of making decisions (3%) without hindering decision accuracy.
Chris Thompson, of the University of Exeter, who led the study, said: “This research is a really exciting landmark in the work conducted on nitrate supplementation so far. The improvement we found may seem small, but it’s likely to provide a meaningful advantage to the athlete on the sports field. It could mean that team sport players are able to make those important decisions faster and cover more ground than their opponents in the seconds when it matters most.”
Professor Andrew Jones PhD, Associate Dean for Research at the College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter commented: “These new results suggest that beetroot juice could improve both physical performance and decision-making during team sports such as rugby and football. In events like the Rugby World Cup, every second counts in those crucial moments, so this improvement could make all the difference”.
BEET IT shots are at the centre of worldwide research in over 150 universities into the benefits of natural dietary nitrate supplementation. The research has identified that their naturally high dietary nitrate content (400mg per shot) interacts with enzymes in saliva to generate nitric oxide in the blood system. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator that increases the flow of blood and oxygen to the muscles, thereby boosting strength and endurance.
Public Release: 28-Sep-2015
High dietary fiber intake linked to health promoting short chain fatty acids
Beneficial effects not limited to vegetarian or vegan diets
Eating a lot of fibre-rich foods, such as fruit, vegetables, and legumes–typical of a Mediterranean diet–is linked to a rise in health promoting short chain fatty acids, finds research published online in the journal Gut.
And you don’t have to be a vegetarian or a vegan to reap the benefits, the findings suggest.
Short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which include acetate, propionate, and butyrate, are produced by bacteria in the gut during fermentation of insoluble fibre from dietary plant matter. SCFAs have been linked to health promoting effects, including a reduced risk of inflammatory diseases, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
The researchers gathered a week’s information on the typical daily diet of 153 adults who either ate everything (omnivores, 51), or were vegetarians (51), or vegans (51), and living in four geographically distant cities in Italy.
They also assessed the levels of gut bacteria and the ‘chemical fingerprints’ of cellular processes (metabolites) in their stool and urine samples.
The Mediterranean diet is characterised by high intake of fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and cereals; moderately high intake of fish; regular but moderate alcohol consumption; and low intake of saturated fat, red meat, and dairy products.
Most (88%) of the vegans, almost two thirds of the vegetarians (65%), and around a third (30%) of the omnivores consistently ate a predominantly Mediterranean diet.
The investigation showed distinct patterns of microbial colonisation according to usual dietary intake.
Bacteroidetes were more abundant in the stool samples of those who ate a predominantly plant based diet, while Firmicutes were more abundant in those who ate a predominantly animal products diet. Both these categories of organisms (phyla) contain microbial species that can break down complex carbohydrates, resulting in the production of SCFAs.
Specifically, Prevotella and Lachnospira were more common among the vegetarians and vegans while Streptococcus was more common among the omnivores.
And higher levels of SCFA were found in vegans, vegetarians, and those who consistently followed a Mediterranean diet.
Levels of SCFAs were also strongly associated with the quantity of fruit, vegetables, legumes, and fibre habitually consumed, irrespective of the type of diet normally eaten.
On the other hand, levels of trimethylamine oxide (TMAO)–a compound that has been linked to cardiovascular disease–were significantly lower in the urine samples of vegetarians and vegans than they were in those of the omnivores.
But the more omnivores closely followed a Mediterranean diet, the lower were their TMAO levels, the analysis showed.
TMAO levels were linked to the prevalence of microbes associated with the intake of animal proteins and fat, including L-Ruminococcus (from the Lachnospiraceae family).
Eggs, beef, pork and fish are the primary sources of carnitine and choline–compounds that are converted by gut microbes into trimethylamine, which is then processed by the liver and released into the circulation as TMAO.
The researchers point out that SCFA levels can naturally vary as a result of age and gender, and their study did not set out to establish any causal links.
But they nevertheless suggest that the Mediterranean diet does seem to be associated with the production of health promoting SCFAs.
They conclude: “We provide here tangible evidence of the impact of a healthy diet and a Mediterranean dietary pattern on gut microbiota and on the beneficial regulation of microbial metabolism towards health maintenance in the host.”
And they add: “Western omnivore diets are not necessarily detrimental when a certain consumption level of [plant] foods is included.”
Public Release: 30-Sep-2015
Four gut bacteria decrease asthma risk in infants
University of British Columbia
New research by scientists at UBC and BC Children’s Hospital finds that infants can be protected from getting asthma if they acquire four types of gut bacteria by three months of age. More than 300 families from across Canada participated in this research through the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Study.
“This research supports the hygiene hypothesis that we’re making our environment too clean. It shows that gut bacteria play a role in asthma, but it is early in life when the baby’s immune system is being established,” said the study’s co-lead researcher B. Brett Finlay, Peter Wall Distinguished Professor in the Michael Smith Laboratories and the departments of microbiology & immunology and biochemistry and molecular biology at UBC.
Asthma rates have increased dramatically since the 1950s and now affect up to 20 per cent of children in western countries. The discovery opens the door to developing probiotic treatments for infants that prevent asthma. The finding could also be used to develop a test for predicting which children are at risk of developing asthma.
The researchers analyzed fecal samples from 319 children involved in the CHILD Study. Analysis of the gut bacteria from the samples revealed lower levels of four specific gut bacteria in three-month-old infants who were at an increased risk for asthma.
Most babies naturally acquire these four bacteria, nicknamed FLVR (Faecalibacterium, Lachnospira, Veillonella, Rothia), from their environments, but some do not, either because of the circumstances of their birth or other factors.
The researchers also found fewer differences in FLVR levels among one-year-old children, meaning the first three months are a critical time period for a baby’s developing immune system.
The researchers confirmed these findings in mice and also discovered that newborn mice inoculated with the FLVR bacteria developed less severe asthma.
“This discovery gives us new potential ways to prevent this disease that is life-threatening for many children. It shows there’s a short, maybe 100-day window for giving babies therapeutic interventions to protect against asthma,” said co-lead researcher Dr. Stuart Turvey, pediatric immunologist, BC Children’s Hospital, director of clinical research and senior clinician scientist at the Child & Family Research Institute, Aubrey J. Tingle Professor of Pediatric Immunology at UBC.
The researchers say that further study with a larger number of children is required to confirm these findings and reveal how these bacteria influence the development of asthma.
The study was published today in in Science Translational Medicine.
Watch a video with the researchers: https://youtu.be/rRlezDvY3Ew. Video files are available for download, please contact Heather Amos at 604.828.3867.
Public Release: 30-Sep-2015
Vitamin D3 supplementation helps women build muscle even after menopause
New study demonstrates vitamin effectiveness in reducing degeneration and risk of falls
The North American Menopause Society (NAMS)
CLEVELAND, Ohio (September 30, 2015)–The benefits of vitamin D supplementation for postmenopausal women have been widely debated. But a new study from Sao Paulo, Brazil, now documents that vitamin D supplementation can significantly increase muscle strength and reduce the loss of body muscle mass in women as late as 12+ years after menopause. The study results will be presented at the 2015 Annual Meeting of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), which begins September 30 in Las Vegas.
Vitamin D deficiency is a common problem in postmenopausal women worldwide, creating muscle weakness and a greater tendency for falling. The double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted over a nine-month period. Muscle mass was estimated by total-body DXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry), as well as by handgrip strength and through a chair-rising test.
At the end of the trial, the women receiving the supplements demonstrated a significant increase (+25.3%) in muscle strength, while those receiving the placebo actually lost an average of 6.8% of muscle mass. Women not receiving Vitamin D supplements were also nearly two times as likely to fall.
“We concluded that the supplementation of Vitamin D alone provided significant protection against the occurrence of sarcopenia, which is a degenerative loss of skeletal muscle, says Dr. L.M. Cangussu, one of the lead authors of the study from the Botucatu Medical School at Sao Paulo State University.
“While this study is unlikely to decide the debate over Vitamin D, it provides further evidence to support the use of vitamin D supplements by postmenopausal women in an effort to reduce frailty and an increased risk of falling,” says NAMS Executive Director Wulf H. Utian, MD, PhD, DSc(Med).
Public Release: 1-Oct-2015
Link between height and cancer
Large-scale Swedish study discovers link between height and cancer
Cancer risk has been found to increase with height in both Swedish men and women, according to research presented today at the 54th Annual European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology Meeting. This long-term study is the largest carried out on the association between height and cancer in both genders.
Researchers from the Karolinska Institutet and University of Stockholm examined 5.5 million men and women in Sweden, born between 1938 and 1991 and with adult heights ranging between 100 cm and 225 cm. They followed the group of individuals from 1958 or from the age of 20 until the end of 2011, and found that for every 10 cm of height, the risk of developing cancer increased by 18% in women and 11% in men. Additionally, taller women had a 20% greater risk of developing breast cancer, whilst the risk of developing melanoma increased by approximately 30% per 10 cm of height in both men and women.
Previous studies have also shown the same association between height and cancer. That is to say, taller individuals have a higher risk of developing different types of cancer, including breast cancer and melanoma. However, this association has never been studied in men and women on such a large scale before. “To our knowledge, this is the largest study performed on linkage between height and cancer including both women and men,” said Dr Emelie Benyi, a PhD student at Karolinska Institutet who led the study.
The data on adult heights was collected from the Swedish Medical Birth, the Swedish Conscription, and the Swedish Passport Registers, whereas the cancer data was retrieved from the Swedish Cancer Register. “It should be emphasised that our results reflect cancer incidence on a population level,” said Dr Benyi. “As the cause of cancer is multifactorial, it is difficult to predict what impact our results have on cancer risk at the individual level.”
The group is now planning on investigating how mortality from cancer and other causes of death are associated with height within the Swedish population. “Our studies show that taller individuals are more likely to develop cancer but it is unclear so far if they also have a higher risk of dying from cancer or have an increased mortality overall,” said Dr Benyi