More Skin Infections, Less Heart Disease: Study Reveals How Height Affects Health


Tall people have an increased risk of peripheral neuropathy, as well as skin and bone infections, but a lower risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, according to the world’s largest study on height and disease .

A person’s height increases and reduces their risk of various diseases, according to research conducted by Sridharan Raghavan of Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center in the United States. The results are published in the journal PLOS Genetics.

Height has been a factor associated with multiple common conditions, ranging from heart disease to cancer. But scientists have struggled to determine whether being tall or short is what puts people at risk, or whether factors that affect height, such as nutrition and socioeconomic status, are actually to blame.

In the study, the researchers set out to remove these confounders by looking separately at the links between various diseases and a person’s actual height, and the links to their predicted height based on their genetics.

The team used data from the VA Million Veteran program, including genetic and health information from more than 200,000 white adults and more than 50,000 black adults. The study looked at more than 1,000 conditions and traits, making it the largest study on height and disease to date.

The results confirmed previous findings from smaller studies that being tall is linked to a higher risk of atrial fibrillation and varicose veins, and a lower risk of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Researchers have also found new associations between being taller and a higher risk of peripheral neuropathy, caused by damage to nerves in the extremities, as well as skin and bone infections such as leg and foot ulcers. .

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Researchers now believe height may be a previously unrecognized risk factor for several common diseases. However, they cautioned that more studies were needed to clarify some of the findings, and that future work would benefit from studying a more diverse international population.

“We found evidence that adult height can impact more than 100 clinical traits, including several conditions associated with poor outcomes and poor quality of life – peripheral neuropathy, lower extremity ulcers and chronic venous insufficiency” , Raghavan said. “We conclude that height may be an unrecognized, non-modifiable risk factor for several common conditions in adults.”


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