Have you ever wondered if your height affects your health in anyway seems possible whether short or tall…Being tall might get you a spot on the basketball team, and it may even be good for your self-esteem and your paycheck. But recent research has also found that towering over your peers may affect various aspects of your physical health, as well—and not all for the better.
Some of these health risks have to do with the physiology of being an especially small or large person, and what that means for the body’s organs. Here are a few ways height has recently been linked to health.
More blood clots for Tall people and lower for short.
In a September study published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics, researchers investigated the link between height and venous thromboembolism, the third leading cause of heart attack and stroke. They found that, in a group of more than 2 million Swedish siblings, men shorter than 5’3” had a 65% lower risk of developing a venous thromboembolism, a type of blood clot that starts in a vein, than men taller than 6’2”. They also analyzed a group of pregnant women, since pregnancy can be a trigger for these types of blood clots. Those shorter than 5’1” had a 69% lower risk compared to those 6’ and taller.
Why? Gravity may be influencing the link. “It could just be that because taller individuals have longer leg veins there is more surface area where problems can occur which is yet to tell but we all know that Increased gravitational pressure in the veins of taller legs can also increase the risk of blood flow slowing or stopping temporarily.
Higher risk of dying from cancer
Being tall may be a marker of over-nutrition—specifically, eating too many high-calorie animal proteins—during different stages of growth and development, either throughout life or before birth. That could activate growth processes that leave cells vulnerable to mutations.
If you think about what cancer is ― abnormal cells multiplying out of control ― “being taller and having a higher risk of cancer will makes some sort of sense since more cells might mean more opportunity for a cancer-causing mutation. That explanation plays out in the research on hormone-related cancers, such as breast, ovarian and prostate, which are more common among the height-gifted. Growth hormone, too, may play a role in the development of cancer, since studies suggest that a lack of it lowers your risk of the disease.
Height may also be an indicator of organ size “The larger the organ, the more cells are at risk of malignant transformation.”
Other studies have also found that tall (and obese) men are at increased risk of developing aggressive forms of prostate cancer, and that tall women are more likely to develop melanoma, as well as breast, ovarian, endometrial and colon cancer.
Less heart disease and diabetes for tall people.
On the other hand, tall people may have have lower rates of heart disease and diabetes. In the recent Lancet study, for every 2.5 inches of height, a person’s risk of dying from heart disease decreased by 6%. Taller people tend to naturally have bigger lungs and stronger hearts which may partially explain these effects. Plus, the same over-nutrition phenomenon associated with increased cancer risk may be protective in other ways: It could trigger an increased production of a hormone that helps the body control blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
There may be another exception to the taller-is-heart-healthier rule. Preliminary research presented at a cardiology conference in April found that taller and bigger women are nearly three times as likely to develop atrial fibrillation, a dangerous heart rhythm disorder.
The larger a woman’s body size as a young adult, the more likely she was to develop the irregularity during the 16-year study. Larger cells in a woman’s heart could interrupt its electrical pathways, the authors suspect, and extra pressure against the lungs (due to a woman’s large size) could cause the heart to distend.
However, the potential effects of height on disease and mortality risk are still likely very low, say the experts—certainly lower than the risk factors you can control, like diet, exercise, smoking and drinking alcohol.
High- risk Pregnancy
Researchers at the City University of New York looked at more than 220,000 expectant mothers and found that those were slightly taller than average (5 feet 6 inches) were anywhere from 18 to 59 percent less likely to develop gestational diabetes—a form of high blood sugar that only affects pregnant women—than 5-foot-2 expectant moms, according to a 2014 study in Diabetic Medicine. The researchers speculate that the genes of those who are vertically challenged somehow affect their glucose tolerance. Another study last year in PLOS Medicine found that being pint-sized and pregnant is associated with an increased risk of having a shorter pregnancy and preterm birth.
Not only are tall people more injury-prone, but their injuries are often worse than those experienced by the shorter set. “Taller patients, when they take a fall, they’re going to go a lot further and … the impact will be higher,” noting that older tall people have higher rates of hip fracture. Some data suggests lanky people may also be crippled by slower reactions times, he adds, since their nerve impulses have farther to travel. Professional athletes, for one, know the consequences of this phenomenon all too well: Towering players, tend to have higher rates of injury and take longer to recover than their littler teammates.