How your height affects your health

Across dozens of studies, scientists have discovered that a person’s height could indicate their chance of developing certain medical conditions.

While the science does appear to be there, it is not fully understood why being tall or short would alter a person’s cells in such a way that they were more likely to have heart disease, diabetes or a raft of other illnesses.

There is no doubt that it is frustrating for people who do all the right things and still develop a  disease. They may wonder why someone else who neglects their health ends up being less plagued by illness.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if the mystery could be solved by understanding whether height really does affect the state of your health as you age?

According to medical site WebMD, a study of 100,000 women in Europe and North America revealed that shorter women were less likely to contract ovarian cancer.

And a study of 9000 British men aged between 50 and 69 found that shorter men had a lower chance of getting prostate cancer.

Here is a round up of what other research has found can be related to height:

If you’re tall, you:

    • are more likely to form blood clots in your veins
    • could have an increased risk of breast cancer
    • have less chance of succumbing to type 2 diabetes and heart disease
    • have a higher chance of lower back pain and breaking a hip.


If you’re short, you:

    • are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s
    • have a better chance of living longer
    • may be more susceptible to osteoporosis
    • are probably less prone to disease as you age.

While the medical profession cannot explain how your height could determine whether you stay healthy or not, some of the theories make sense. For instance, taller people have a higher centre of gravity, meaning they might be more prone to falling when they are older and suffer a broken hip.

Another belief is that poor nutrition as a child could stunt growth. Then, not only are they shorter than average, but perhaps their less-than-optimal early diet exposed them to more infections, which in turn may have damaged internal organs.

Some deeper research, however, has found genetic links between stature and lifespans. A 2006 study into longevity discovered biological markers that it claimed determined a longer life. In most of the shorter women studied, the scientists identified an insulin-like growth factor that was related to a gene named IGF-1. They believed having this biological marker led to the prolonged lifespans of those women.

Do you know anyone whose stature links in with some of the medical conditions mentioned here? Are you satisfied with how tall you are? Do you believe a poor diet in childhood may have affected your health later in life?

Also read: Are you shrinking?

YourLifeChoices Writers
YourLifeChoices Writers
YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.
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