The influence of anthropometric characteristics on colorectal neoplasia biology is unclear. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to determine if adult-attained height is independently associated with the risk of colorectal cancer or adenoma.


We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, the Cochrane Library, and Web of Science from inception to August 2020 for studies on the association between adult-attained height and colorectal cancer or adenoma. The original data from the Johns Hopkins (Baltimore, MD) Colon Biofilm study was also included. The overall HR/OR of colorectal cancer/adenoma with increased height was estimated using random-effects meta-analysis.


We included 47 observational studies involving 280,644 colorectal cancer and 14,139 colorectal adenoma cases. Thirty-three studies reported data for colorectal cancer incidence per 10-cm increase in height; 19 yielded an HR of 1.14 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.11–1.17; P < 0.001), and 14 engendered an OR of 1.09 (95% CI, 1.05–1.13; P < 0.001). Twenty-six studies compared colorectal cancer incidence between individuals within the highest versus the lowest height percentile; 19 indicated an HR of 1.24 (95% CI, 1.19–1.30; P < 0.001), and seven resulting in an OR of 1.07 (95% CI, 0.92–1.25; P = 0.39). Four studies reported data for assessing colorectal adenoma incidence per 10-cm increase in height, showing an overall OR of 1.06 (95% CI, 1.00–1.12; P = 0.03).


Greater adult attained height is associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer and adenoma.


Height should be considered as a risk factor for colorectal cancer screening.

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