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Ways Being Tall Affects Your Health
Being tall might get you a spot on the basketball team, and it may even be good for your self-
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
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,” said lead researcher Dr. Bengt Zöller, associate professor at Lund University and Malmö University Hospital in Sweden, in a news release. Increased gravitational pressure in the veins of taller legs can also increase the risk of blood flow slowing or stopping temporarily.
The CDC estimates that thromboembolisms affect up to 600,000 Americans every year, and that number is increasing—possibly because average height is also increasing, says Zöller
Higher risk of dying from cancer
The risk of dying from cancer increases by 4% for every two and a half inches of height a person has, according to a 2016 review paper published in the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology. Being tall may be a marker of over-
There are other theories, as well. “Height may also be an indicator of organ size,” wrote review co-
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
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, says Schulze, which may partially explain these effects. Plus, the same over-
Higher risk of a-
There may be another exception to the taller-
The larger a woman’s body size as a young adult, the more likely she was to develop the irregularity during the 16-
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.