Several epidemiological studies have shown a positive association between adult height and cancer incidence. The only study conducted among women on mouth and pharynx cancer risk, however, reported an inverse association. This study aims to investigate the association between height and the risk of head and neck cancer (HNC) within a large international consortium of HNC. We analyzed pooled individual-level data from 24 case-control studies participating in the International Head and Neck Cancer Epidemiology Consortium. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95 % confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated separately for men and women for associations between height and HNC risk. Educational level, tobacco smoking, and alcohol consumption were included in all regression models. Stratified analyses by HNC subsites were performed. This project included 17,666 cases and 28,198 controls. We found an inverse association between height and HNC (adjusted OR per 10 cm height = 0.91, 95 % CI 0.86-0.95 for men; adjusted OR = 0.86, 95 % CI 0.79-0.93 for women). In men, the estimated OR did vary by educational level, smoking status, geographic area, and control source. No differences by subsites were detected. Adult height is inversely associated with HNC risk. As height can be considered a marker of childhood illness and low energy intake, the inverse association is consistent with prior studies showing that HNC occur more frequently among deprived individuals. Further studies designed to elucidate the mechanism of such association would be warranted.
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