Taller people face greater risks of developing cancer, according to British researchers.

The likelihood of developing cancer rises 16 percent for every extra four inches in height among women, according to the University of Oxford study.

The research, published Wednesday in the British medical journal Lancet, suggested that increases in height over the past century might help explain changes in the incidence of cancer over the same time period.

Hormone levels related to childhood growth, and in turn to cancer risk in later life, could be behind the phenomenon, according to the research.

It also suggested that the link could be down to the fact that taller people have more cells in their bodies — and therefore a greater chance of developing cancerous cells.

"The fact that the link between height and cancer risk seems to be common to many different types of cancer in different people suggests there may be a basic common mechanism, perhaps acting early in people's lives, when they are growing," study leader Dr. Jane Green said.

The study involved 1.3 million middle-aged women in Britain between 1996 and 2001.

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