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Raft of health problems are linked to height
November 10, 2014, 4:18 pm

Being tall, particularly in men, seems to be a valuable biological characteristic.

The latest University of Edinburgh study suggests short men are more likely to get dementia with risk going up 25 percent for every two inches lost.  The study of nearly 220,000 people across Britain, found men who were 5ft 5inches were 50 percent more likely to develop dementia.The academics think that height is an important indicator of developmental difficulties in childhood, such as stress, illness and poor nutrition.

They warn that lifelong damage can take place while the body is growing which may not be apparent until much later in life and suggest that breakfast clubs, vaccination programs and improved parenting schemes could help tackle the growing dementia time bomb.

Lead author, Dr Tom Russ, of the University of Edinburgh’s College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine, said: “This just shows the importance of intervening early to make sure children have proper nutrition and are not at risk.”

Here we look at some health problems and their potential link to a person's height.


In 2008 researchers looked at studies involving more than 9,000 men and came to the conclusion that tall men are at a higher risk of prostate cancer. The study of nearly 220,000 people across Britain, found men who were 5ft 5inches were 50 percent more likely to develop dementia   It went onto explain that a short man is around 19 percent less likely to develop the cancer than a man a foot taller than him.

A study in 2011 claimed the likelihood of developing the disease rises to 16 percent for every extra four inches in height among women - and a similar pattern is also seen in men.

Dr Jane Green, who led the research, said: "The fact that the link between height and cancer risk seems to be common to many different types of cancer in different people suggests there may be a basic common mechanism, perhaps acting early in peoples' lives, when they are growing.

"Of course people cannot change their height. And being taller has actually been linked to a lower risk of other conditions, such as heart disease."

Heart Disease

A review in 2008 of 52 studies found shorter adults were around 50 percent more likely to have heart disease, have a heart attack or die from the disease than tall people.

According to the study, short people were classified as being below 160.5cm (5ft 3in) and tall people were deemed to be 173.9cm (5ft 8in).


An Israeli study of more than 10,000 men show evidence that linked a 5cm increase in height with a 13 percent increase in fatal stroke risk.


Type 2 diabetes has previously been linked to weight, but scientific opinion is swinging behind the idea that type 1 diabetes may be linked to height.

The issue is not without controversy, however, and there is debate surrounding the link between height and diabetes. Conflicting studies have contradicted each other and no definitive explanation has yet emerged.

Though one explanation has been suggested, which is that children with diabetes are thought to be shorter than their non-diabetic peers. Though the reasons for this are uncertain.

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