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Study: Taller women may be at higher risk for ovarian cancer

Tall female models walk the runway at the 2012 HOSA Swimwear Trend Fashion Show during the China Fashion Week in Beijing, China, on March 29, 2012. AP / Alexander F. Yuan

(CBS News) Being a tall woman can have its disadvantages. Every additional 5 centimeters - or about 2 inches - of height equals a slight increase in the risk of getting ovarian cancer.

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A new study in Public of Library Science Medicine looked at 47 epidemiological studies in 14 countries involving about 25,000 women with ovarian cancer and more than 81,000 women without ovarian cancer.

They found that the taller the woman, the higher the chance she would get ovarian cancer. Each 5 centimeters of height equaled a 7 percent higher risk.

The risk also went up in women who had a higher body mass index (BMI) who had never taken hormone replacement therapy, therefore linking obesity to ovarian cancer.

"By bringing together the worldwide evidence, it became clear that height is a risk factor," Valerie Beral of the Oxford University Epidemiology Unit said to the BBC. She also added that ovarian cancer can be added to the list of cancers that cause obesity in women who had never taken HRT.

In practical numbers this means that a woman who is 5 foot 6 inches tall has a 23 percent higher chance of getting ovarian cancer than a woman who was 5 foot even, according comments made by Dr Paul Pharoah, reader in cancer epidemiology at the University of Cambridge, to the BBC.

Still the numbers are very small: The 5 foot woman has a 16 out of a 1000 chance of getting ovarian cancer, while the taller woman's chances only rise slightly to 20 out of 1000. Similarly, a person within the normal BMI range with a score of 20 would only have a minutely lower risk than a person who was overweight and scored a 30 on the same scale.

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