The association between adult attained height and sitting height with mortality in the European prospective investigation into cancer and nutrition (EPIC)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Adult height and sitting height may reflect genetic and environmental factors, including early life nutrition, physical and social environments. Previous studies have reported divergent associations for height and chronic disease mortality, with positive associations observed for cancer mortality but inverse associations for circulatory disease mortality. Sitting height might be more strongly associated with insulin resistance; however, data on sitting height and mortality is sparse. Using the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study, a prospective cohort of 409,748 individuals, we examined adult height and sitting height in relation to all-cause and cause-specific mortality. Height was measured in the majority of participants; sitting height was measured in 253,000 participants. During an average of 12.5 years of follow-up, 29,810 deaths (11,931 from cancer and 7,346 from circulatory disease) were identified. Hazard ratios (HR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) for death were calculated using multivariable Cox regression within quintiles of height. Height was positively associated with cancer mortality (men: Q5.svQ1 = 1.11, 95%CI = 1.00-1.24; women: Q5.svQ1 = 1.17, 95%CI = 1.07-1.28). In contrast, height was inversely associated with circulatory disease mortality (men: Q5.svQ1 = 0.63, 95%CI = 0.56-0.71; women: vs.1Q= 0.81, 95%CI = 0.70-0.93). Although sitting height was not associated with cancer mortality, it was inversely associated with circulatory disease (men: Q5.svQ1 = 0.64, 95%CI = 0.55-0.75; women: vs.1Q= 0.60, 95%CI = 0.49-0.74) and respiratory disease mortality (men: Q5.svQ1 = 0.45, 95%CI = 0.28-0.71; women: vs.1Q= 0.60, 95%CI = 0.40-0.89). We observed opposing effects of height on cancer and circulatory disease mortality. Sitting height was inversely associated with circulatory disease and respiratory disease mortality.


  • Norie Sawada
  • Petra A. Wark
  • Melissa A Merritt
  • Shoichiro Tsugane
  • Heather A. Ward
  • Sabina Rinaldi
  • Elisabete Weiderpass
  • Laureen Dartois
  • Mathilde His
  • Marie-Christine Boutron-Ruault
  • Renée Turzanski-Fortner
  • Rudolf Kaaks
  • Kim Overvad
  • María Luisa Redondo
  • Noemie Travier
  • Elena Molina-Portillo
  • Miren Dorronsoro
  • Lluis Cirera
  • Eva Ardanaz
  • Aurora Perez-Cornago
  • Antonia Trichopoulou
  • Pagona Lagiou
  • Elissavet Valanou
  • Giovanna Masala
  • Valeria Pala
  • Petra H. M. Peeters
  • Yvonne T. van der Schouw
  • Guri Skeie
  • Anne Tjønneland
  • Anja Olsen
  • Marc J. Gunter
  • Elio Riboli
  • Amanda J Cross
External organisations
  • Imperial College London
  • National Cancer Center Tokyo
  • International Agency for Research on Cancer, World Health Organization
  • UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø
  • Cancer Registry of Norway, Institute of Population-Based Cancer Research
  • Karolinska Institutet
  • Folkhälsan Research Center
  • University of Paris-Sud
  • German Cancer Research Centre
  • Aarhus University
  • Aalborg University Hospital
  • Public Health Directorate
  • Catalan Institute of Oncology
  • University of Granada
  • CIBER Epidemiology and Public Health (CIBERESP)
  • Murcia Regional Health Council
  • Navara Public Health Institute
  • University of Oxford
  • Hellenic Health Foundation, Athens
  • National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
  • Harvard University
  • Cancer Research and Prevention Institute (ISPO)
  • Istituto Nazionale dei Tumori
  • University Medical Center Utrecht
  • Danish Cancer Society Research Center
Research areas and keywords


  • cancer , Nutrition, mortality, attained height , sitting height
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0173117
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Mar 1
Publication categoryResearch