The Who, What, Where, When and Sometimes, Why.


Many studies have shown taller women have an increased risk of breast cancer [9,96,179-186].

A pooled analysis that combined data from 20 prospective cohort studies found women 5’6″ or taller have about a 20-30 percent higher risk of breast cancer than women who are about 5’1” or shorter [77].

How might height affect breast cancer risk?

The increased breast cancer risk linked to height may be related to the growth spurt tall women may have had in their youth.

Growth spurts may be caused by higher levels of hormones (such as IGF-1) or other growth factors. During a growth spurt, these higher hormone levels as well as rapid cell growth may impact breast cancer risk later in life.  

Learn more about IGF-1 hormone levels and breast cancer risk.

Height during childhood and the teen years

A woman’s height during childhood and the teen years may be related to breast cancer risk [52,187].

One study found women who were taller at ages 8 and 14 (and those who grew the most in height from ages 8-14) had a higher risk of breast cancer than women who were shorter (and who didn’t grow as much in height) [52].

Learn more about early life exposures and breast cancer risk. 

Updated 03/07/22