Experiments in animals have shown that energy intake during the growth period is positively associated with the later incidence of cancer. Recently, direct evidence of an association between childhood energy intake and adult mortality from cancer among humans was published in a report from the Boyd Orr cohort study. Childhood energy intake was positively associated with mortality from cancers not related to smoking, whereas there was no association between energy intake and mortality from cancers related to smoking. This is to be expected as the substantial effects of tobacco would mask any effects of childhood diet on cancers related to smoking.
Height has been used in previous studies as a marker for energy intake in childhood, with the limited evidence indicating a positive association for some cancer sites.[3 4 5] In the Boyd Orr study data were not available on smoking behaviour and were limited on adulthood socioeconomic position. We therefore analysed the association between height and mortality from cancer in a large cohort of men for whom detailed data on socioeconomic position in adulthood and on smoking behaviour were available.
Subjects, methods, and results
In the Whitehall study of London civil servants, data on employment grade, height, and smoking behaviour were available for 17 …