07/21/2011 01:28 pm ET Updated Sep 20, 2011

Tall Women May Have A Greater Cancer Risk

Tall women may be more likely to develop several different cancers than their shorter counterparts, a new study suggests.

Published in the journal Lancet Oncology, the study shows that for every 4-inch increase in height, the risk of 10 different cancers -- include leukemia, melanoma, breast, ovarian, bowel and uterine cancer -- goes up 16 percent.

"Because height is linked to a wide range of cancers in a wide range of people, [the finding] may give us a clue to basic common mechanisms for cancer," study researcher Jane Green, a cancer epidemiologist at the University of Oxford, told ABC News.

So what should you do if you're tall? First, don't panic. The study found an association, not direct link. And of course, height is something that is largely out of our control -- affected by genetics and nutrition.

The results also don't suggest that tall people need extra cancer screening.

Luckily, it's not all bad news for tall people -- a study published this month in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health shows that longer legs seems to be tied with a longer lifespan, the Daily Mail reported.

This isn't the first study to link physical attributes to cancer risk. Research published last year in the British Journal of Cancer showed that men who have long index fingers have a decreased risk of prostate cancer, because finger length seems to be linked with the amount of testosterone a man produces.

In the new study, the researchers analyzed the health information and height of more than 1 million women who participated in the Million Women Study between 1996 and 2001, none of whom had been diagnosed with cancer at the start of the study. They followed the women for nine years.

The researchers grouped the women into groups by height, with the shortest group consisting of women who are less than 5 feet 1 inch in height, and the tallest group consisting of women who are 5 feet 9 inches or taller.

Even though the researchers found that the taller women seemed to have fewer children and drink more alcohol than the shorter women, they were less likely to be smokers or obese and were more likely to be wealthy and active, the study said. Despite this, the taller women seemed to be more likely to develop cancer.

For every 4 inches of height, cancer risk increased by 32 percent for skin cancer, 29 percent for kidney cancer, 26 percent for leukemia and 16 percent for breast cancer.