health

Height and Health

In Editorials by Anthony Rezendes

Why being tall can have its disadvantages


Overall, it seems like tall people are at a greater advantage than those of us who aren’t. A lot of people are attracted to tall people because they make them feel safe, they usually don’t seem to pack on the pounds the way shorter people tend to do and studies have shown that they are more successful in their careers and earn more money. While shorter people don’t like to admit it, taller people seem to be more highly regarded. That being said, research has shown that when it comes to overall health, short people are less prone to heart disease, cancer, blood clots and more. They even live longer that their tall counterparts. Height and health are absolutely linked to one another. Here are some health facts to be aware of as a tall person.

Blood Clots: Not just for the obese

Men whose physical attributes including both obesity and being tall are at greater risk of experiencing potentially fatal blood clots. Studies held in Norway at the University of Tromso found that a potentially fatal blood clot condition in the lungs, referred to as “venous thrombo embolism”, effected men over 6 feet tall 2 times more often than short individuals. One explanation is the fact that blood has to pump an extended distance in tall people, which has the potential of causing reduced flow within the legs which raises the risk of clotting. Taller people also typically have more substantial muscle mass, also slowing blood flow into the muscle mass which can lead to clotting. An additional potential association is that taller people typically weigh more and the increased weight, especially in those who are considered obese, puts excess pressure on the legs and calf areas, reducing blood flow and causing joint pain.

Back and Joint Pain

Besides causing blood flow issues, the taller you are, the greater your chances of suffering from back and joint pain with one of the main reasons being that tall people tend to make it a habit to slouch. Unfortunately, slouching overstretches the ligaments in the back causing back and joint pain.

Height and Cancer

Tall women are at an increased risk of skin cancer by as high as 32% for every 4 inches over 5 feet 1 inches. As with breast cancer, hormones related to growth spurts and height may play a part with the chances of developing melanoma, rising by 16% for every 4 additional inches in height over 5 feet, 1 inches. This could be due to high levels of growth hormones in taller women that stimulate body growth, especially during the childhood and adolescence years. An Oxford University study found women with higher levels of growth hormones were 28% more likely to develop estrogen reliant breast cancer.

Additional Height Related Issues

There are several other health conditions that are more prevalent in tall people, including heart disease, Alzheimer’s and diabetes, all completely unique health issues. These condition’s relationships to height may signal common underlying connections, however nothing solid has been determined to date.

Determining the connection between height and overall health aspects is far more complex than establishing somebody’s height and watching to see if they eventually develop a specific disease. It’s important to first exclude any possibilities of an undetermined association that isn’t connected to height. Being overweight is unhealthy for everyone, regardless of how tall they are. Additional interesting facts to note is that stress and poor nutrition can actually stunt growth, and high calorie diets have been connected with increased height. The most important thing you can do, short of tall, is to live a healthy lifestyle if you want to avoid the health issues mentioned here.

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About the Author

Anthony Rezendes

Anthony is one of the original Lanky Living founders. As a user experience designer living in Austin, TX, his interests include helping start-ups build their business, working on various creative endeavors, and spending time with his family.