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You can assume that being tall means, to some extent, being healthy. In addition to genetics and heredity, adult height is largely determined by nutritional intake during infancy and childhood. The better the nutrition, the more likely you are to be healthy and taller.

But several studies have questioned this hypothesis. Being tall can have its advantages. But, according to some studies, long life may not be one of them.

While much more evidence is needed, research indicates a possible link between height and specific diseases, as well as potential for longevity.

Keep in mind, however, that short and tall are relative terms, and more research and evidence is needed to confirm these results. Lifestyle habits also play an important role in the potential for longevity.

We’ll highlight the research on this topic and break it down for you.

There are several studies indicating a correlation between height and risk of mortality.

Death rate among Italian soldiers

A longitudinal study of men who had served in the Italian army found that those shorter than 161.1 cm (about 5’3 in) lived longer than those taller than 161.1 cm. This study looked at the death rates of men born between 1866 and 1915 in the same Italian village.

The researchers found that by age 70, taller men must live about 2 years less than those who are shorter.

During the years the study participants were born, the average height of men in the village was around 5’2 ″. By current standards, it’s relatively short.

It’s also important to note that the researchers did not correlate variables, such as weight and BMI (body mass index), for this study.

Longevity of former basketball players

A 2017 study About the size and lifespan of former professional basketball players found that larger body size resulted in reduced longevity. This study analyzed the size and lifespan of 3,901 living and deceased basketball players who played between 1946 and 2010.

The players had an average height of 197.78 cm. (approximately 6’5 ″ high). In this study, the tallest players in the top 5% died younger than the shortest players in the bottom 5%. People born between 1941 and 1950 were an exception to these findings.

Researchers quickly noticed that variables such as variations in genotype, socioeconomic factors, medical care, weight, education, nutrition, exercise, and smoking were all factors that also play a role. in determining longevity.

The FOX03 gene

The FOX03 genotype and its relationship to size and longevity were analyzed in an observational study study of 8,003 American men of Japanese descent.

The FOX03 gene is systematically linked to longevity in human and animal studies. It is also related to the size of the body and can be one of the reasons why smaller people can have a longer lifespan.

In this study, men who were 5’2 or less were more likely to have a protective form of the FOX03 gene and lived the longest. Those over 5’4 ″ had a shorter lifespan.

Smaller men have also been shown to have less cancer incidence and lower fasting insulin levels. FOX03 is a key regulatory gene of the insulin / IGF-1 signaling pathway.

It is not fully understood why, or even if, smaller people are destined to live longer. Much more research is needed.

Currently, there are several theories:

  • Calorie restriction (eat less). It is possible that this is a factor that promotes a longer life for smaller people. Tall people have bigger bones and larger internal organs than short people. This means that they need more daily calorie intake to function optimally.
  • Shorter bodies have fewer cells. Tall people can have billions more cells than short people. This allows for greater exposure and greater impact on cells from free radicals and carcinogens.
  • More cells means more cell replications. As people age, replacement cells may no longer be available to repair tissue and organ damage in tall people.

Health complications that can be correlated with height include cancer and other conditions. Here’s what the science says.

Cancer, death from all causes

A 2016 study of American men and women have found a link between height and cancer risk, as well as all-cause mortality. The researchers analyzed data from the death certificates of 14,440 men and 16,390 women aged 25 and over.

According to the researchers, an additional one inch increase in height generated a 2.2% risk of death from all causes for men, and a 2.5% higher risk of death from all causes for men. women.

A further increase in height resulted in a 7.1% higher risk of cancer death for men and a 5.7% higher risk of cancer death for women.

The researchers monitored the level of education and birthdays. They concluded that their results indicated a positive increase in accessibility to excellent medical care, for conditions other than cancer, among participants.

Cancer risk in postmenopausal women

Cancer risk and height were analyzed in a 2013 study out of 144,701 postmenopausal women. Being tall was positively associated with all types of cancer, including thyroid, breast, colon and ovarian cancers.

Size was found to have a modest, but statistically significant, impact on cancer acquisition.

The researchers analyzed data from women who had no history of cancer. They also tried to adjust the weight and the body mass index.

There are many variables that may have had an impact on the study results, in addition to size. For example, smoking and alcohol consumption rates have been shown to increase with height.

Education level, ethnicity, income level, as well as the use of oral contraceptives and hormone therapy, may all have had an impact. Cancer screening rates played no role in the study’s results.

Venous thromboembolism (VTE)

Recurrences of VTE were found to be more common in tall women than in short women. several studies. In this case, the simple fact of having longer legs and longer veins where a thrombus could occur may be the reason.

Age, obesity and long-term hospitalizations are other potential risk factors for this disease.

There are many factors that impact longevity, and size can be one of them. However, this does not mean that tall people are meant to live short lives, or that short people are meant to live long lives.

Lifestyle choices can also have a huge impact on disease acquisition and longevity. To be in better health and potentially increase your life expectancy, you can:

  • stop smoking or vaping
  • reduce alcohol consumption
  • exercise
  • eat healthy foods full of nutrients and antioxidants
  • reduce the consumption of sugar, fast food and processed foods
  • lose weight if you are overweight
  • reduce stress
  • live in a less polluted place

Many studies have found a correlation between height and longevity. It has been found that short people are resistant to certain diseases such as cancer and live longer.

But these studies, while convincing, are far from conclusive. The best thing you can do if you care about longevity is to make lifestyle choices that have a positive effect on your life expectancy, regardless of your height.

Mildred Lasky

The author Mildred Lasky