Six ways your height affects your health

Being taller than average is actually associated with some health risks - the same way, being shorter is also linked to another set of health issues.

Myupchar November 05, 2019 13:23:44 IST
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Six ways your height affects your health
  • Researchers say that taller people are more prone to a condition known as scoliosis

  • Studies suggest that taller people are more likely to develop cancer than shorter people

  • Longer legs may be physically appealing to some, but they are also more susceptible to develop a blood clot and other related health conditions

A feature many stunning Bollywood stars like Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra and Sonam Kapoor share is “good height”. While being tall has its perks (like being able to reach the top shelf) there are many downsides, too. No, we aren’t just talking about not being able to find the right pair of pants. 

Being taller than average is actually associated with some health risks - the same way, being shorter is also linked to another set of health issues. Knowing the challenges beforehand can help you be better prepared to deal with them though. So here are five ways your height affects your health:

Six ways your height affects your health

Representational image. Image source: Getty Images

1. Back and spine issues

In India, chairs and tables at workplaces are designed by keeping average-height people in mind, although people of all heights work in the same office - exerting their back and spine the whole day. In this case, the taller population is more at risk of developing back issues.

Researchers say that taller people are more prone to a condition known as scoliosis, where a person develops a curvature in the spine. The reason for this remains unknown.

An 11-year-long study published in the peer-reviewed British Medical Journal suggested that the risk of lower back pain increases as height increases. Implementing ergonomic practice at the workplace or home could reduce the risk to some extent.

2. Blood clots

Longer legs may be physically appealing to some, but they are also more susceptible to develop a blood clot and other related health conditions. A study by the American Heart Association indicated that body height and obesity when combined, increase the risk of venous thromboembolism (blood clot in the veins of the legs). Men are more vulnerable to this than women. 

A blood clot in the legs can travel up to the lungs, obstructing the oxygen exchange, and cause death.

3. Diabetes

This isn't exactly a short people versus tall people thing but bear with us. Studies show that people with low leg-to-height ratio are more likely to have diabetes than people with long legs in proportion to their body!

4. Life span

How does height affect longevity? Though the jury is still out on this, many studies show that taller people tend to have a shorter life span whereas shorter people tend to live longer. One explanation for this is that taller people are more prone to develop health issues such as blood clots or injuries.

However, being tall or short is decided by our genes, not by us. Keeping ourselves healthy by following a good lifestyle is what we can do to increase our life span.

5. Cancer

Studies suggest that taller people are more likely to develop cancer than shorter people. The taller you are, the more risk you carry - especially for breast, ovary, prostate and large bowel cancer. 

One of the explanations for this is that tall people secrete more growth hormone - the same hormone that makes us tall could be the possible reason for increased cancer risk.

6. Heart disease 

There are studies that support both sides of the story here. Some suggest that taller people are less likely to have heart diseases as their blood vessels are stronger and healthier. Others contradict this by saying that the “evolving body mechanisms overtime favours shorter people through a higher heart pumping efficiency, lower DNA damage and lower risk of blood clots".

While scientists reach a consensus on the relationship between height and the incidence of heart disease, just make sure you eat well and exercise daily, no matter where you stand on the height parameter.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. For more information, please read Heart Diseases.

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