Taller people could face surprising health risks – height 'unrecognised' risk factor


The average height for an adult man in the United Kingdom is 5”9. Meanwhile, the average height for a woman is 5”3. For some, heigh can make all the difference, be it in attraction or health. New research suggests taller individuals are at greater risk than others of developing a range of conditions.

Research conducted by the Mountain Regional VA Medical Centre into the impact of height on health found the taller someone is the greater their risk of peripheral neuropathy, skin infections, and bone infections.

However, they also found taller people had a reduced risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

As a result of their analysis they concluded “that height may be an unrecognised but biologically plausible risk factor for several common conditions in adults”.

Their findings are published in the journal PLOS Genetics.

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While their findings are new, this isn’t the first-time height has been associated with several common conditions.

In the past height has also been linked to cancer risk.

What scientists have struggled with is if someone’s height is what put’s someone at risk or whether nutrition and socioeconomic status are more significant driving factors.

To reach to their conclusion, they used data from the VA Million Veteran Programme containing data of more than 200,000 white adults and over 50,000 black adults.


Alongside confirming the findings of previous small-scale studies linking increased height to a raised risk of atrial fibrillation, they also uncovered new links.

They found taller people are at a greater risk of peripheral neuropathy, a condition where nerves in the body’s extremities become damaged.

While they believe height is an unrecognised risk factor they say “more studies are needed”.

Lead researcher Sridharan Ragharan added: “We found evidence adult height may impact over 100 clinical traits, including several conditions associated with poor outcomes and quality of life.”

Meanwhile, away from the United States, a new heart failure clinic has opened in the UK.

This clinic is different, however, as it is a joint clinic treating heart failure and diabetes.

Diabetes has become increasingly common in the 21st Century with around five million Britons living with the condition.

Based in the northern town of Gateshead, the clinic forms part of a new trial designed to streamline treatment and make life easier for patients.

Diabetes and Endocrinology Specialist Pharmacist Claire Davies said: “The idea for the pilot came about because we recognised that heart failure and diabetes are closely connected – if you have diabetes you are at risk of heart failure, and vice versa.

“We noticed there was a gap in the service for people who had both conditions. Since the pilot launched at the end of last year, the clinic has saved time for the heart failure service through using specialist pharmacists.”

Davies said the overall goal was “to provide a caring patient-centred service, focusing on multiple interlinked conditions in one appointment”.

Should the trial prove successful, more clinics of this kind could be opened around the country.


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