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Research Shows That Tall People Face Some Unique Health Risks

From heart disease to a high IQ, being vertically gifted affects your health in a slew of different way

When you were a kid, being vertically gifted when everyone else was still a shrimp got you called bean pole on the playground. Luckily, as an adult it likens you to sky-high ladies like Karlie Kloss and Gisele Bundchen. But being tall effects more than just the names you got called and whether you can wear heels on a date—it actually has an impact on your disease risk and brain health. Check out these six ways having legs for days affects your health.

1. It Increases Your Risk for Cancer

A new study from Sweden followed 5.5 million people starting at age 20 and found that the taller you are, the higher your risk for cancer. Specifically, the researchers found that leggy ladies were 30 percent more likely to develop skin cancer and 20 percent more likely to develop breast cancer. Woah! Researchers, haven't identified why extra inches cause the extra risk, but their best guess so far is that the more cells and tissue you have, the more likely it is that some of those cells will develop abnormally and become cancerous.

Besides breast and skin cancer, tall women also have a slightly heightened risk of ovarian cancer (about 3 percent). Even though this is slight, ovarian cancer is a silent killer, so sky-high ladies need to be extra good about regular gyno appointments (find out Why No One Is Talking About Ovarian Cancer.)

2. It Does Good and Bad to Your Heart

According to a 2014 study from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, taller people have a increased risk of certain heart issues like atrial fibrillation and valve disease. However, the researchers also found that other conditions like congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease are actually less common for those with a higher reach. What gives with the discrepencies? Researchers aren't quite sure. Their hypothesis is two fold: For the perks, they think smaller people have smaller valves that may simply be clog easier. In cases where height hinders heart health, though, researchers are currently looking at growth hormones for an explanation. Their guess is that one of the hormones that makes people both statuesque and susceptible to heart problems.

3. It Shortens Your Life Span

According to research from the University of Hawaii, there a certain gene, dubbed "the longevity gene," that not only lengthens your life span but also shortens your stature. Unfortunately, the taller you are, the shorter you're likely to live. And the reverse is true for short folks—those below 5 foot 2 inches lived the longest (but had to spend their life asking for someone to get the box on the top shelf, at least!).

4. It Lowers Your Diabetes Risk

A meta analysis of 18 studies published by the journal Obesity Reviews found the taller a woman is, the less likely she is to develop type 2 diabetes. Interestingly, the correlation didn't hold true for men who had a similar risk no matter their height, although researchers aren't quite sure why. (No matter your stature, keep an eye out for these 7 Silent Symptoms of Pre-Diabetes.)

5. It Lowers Your Risk for Dementia

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland looked at 220,000 people and found that women who were 5ft 1in had a 35 percent higher risk of dementia than ladies who were 5ft 4in or above. Pardon the pun, but that's pretty mind blowing. So what's the deal with dementia and size? According to the researchers, one reason ladies are little is stunted growth that is often the product of developmental difficulties in childhood like stress or poor nutrition, which are also risk factors for dementia.

6. It Means You're Smarter

Being tall may have other brain benefits, too: According to another University of Edinburgh study, researchers found taller people have slightly higher IQs. Previous research had found not-very-shocking family connections (tall, smart parents tend to produce tall, smart kids) but this is the first study to find the same correlation in people who don't share DNA. Let's hear it for the vertically-gifted gals!