September 26, 2022
Suzy Cohen: Are you tall or short? Disease risk may be related to height

Researchers evaluated more than hundreds of thousands of people to see if their height had any correlation with medical problems. The average height of a man is 5 feet 9 inches and a woman is 5 feet 4 inches, so anything above that is considered “tall.” As it pertains to the study, the mean height of all of the study participants was 176 cm (5 feet, 6 inches).

What’s fascinating is that stature isn’t something that comes to anyone’s mind when thinking about risk factors. When someone is ill, the typical risk factors evaluated are your environmental exposures as well as where you live, the kind of food you eat, weight, genetics, your family history of disorders and toxic exposures. But, how tall you are never comes to mind. It seems like such an implausible claim!

The difficulty is that height is not modifiable. Other risk factors are easily modifiable, but, again, being short, average in height or towering is not something you can change! Anyway, taller people apparently have a higher risk of peripheral nerve damage (neuropathy) and varicose veins, and lower risk of heart disease. This contradicts prior studies, by the way.

We’re seeing more and more Alzheimer’s today as the population ages. One trial examining about 500 people found that men who are about 6 feet tall are almost 60% less likely to develop dementia or Alzheimer’s compared to those shorter than 5 feet 7 inches. The same benefit holds true for taller women; however, the correlation is not as tight. 

» continue to Gainesville Sun