Do Taller People have a Shorter Life Expectancy?
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10-10-2012, 07:23 PM
RE: Do Taller People have a Shorter Life Expectancy?
In reading the following, keep in mind that height is about 10% of the longevity picture. Many other factos are also important.

Extensive evidence supports the thesis that shorter or smaller body size people tend to last longer. For example, many researchers have noted that within a species, smaller individuals live longer (Bartke, Maier, Alex Comfort, de Magalhaes, Speakman, etc.). This includes dogs, mice, rats, horses, trees and Asian vs African elephants. My research over the last 36 years also indicates that shorter people live longer. I found this to be true for veterans and baseball, football and basketball players. Holzenberger tracked 1.3 million men over a 70 year period and found that shorter men lived longer. I co-authored a recent paper on Sardinia with Salaris and Poulain. We found that men within an isolated mountain village lived longer if they were shorter than average (5'3"). They had the longest longevity and were the shortest men in Sardinia. A blue zone (exceptional longevity) within Sardinia also showed that as a region's average height declined, longevity increased. Sardinians in general have a greater longevity index compared to the rest of Europe and are shorter than the rest of Europe. Professor Bartke recently published a review paper (Healthy Aging: Is smaller better), and concluded that smaller individuals have a longevity advantage. Certainly, most of the studies that I have seen show that centenarians tend to be quite short and lean. In addition, smaller women live longer than men. I found that US men were 9% taller and had a 9% shorter life expectancy.

Conflicting results exist. However, they are a result of various confounding factors, such as comparing short, stockier cohorts to taller, leaner cohorts. Also early childhood health problems tend to stunt growth and tend to increase mortality in adulthood. Thus, their early health and not their height is the cause of their early death. Another factor is "catch-up" growth. Researchers, such Singhal, Monteiro, and others, have reported that low birth weight babies that are overfed to help them catch-up to their peer group remain shorter as adults but also have higher levels of heart disease and diabetes. Recent studies show that high socioeconomic people are taller and live longer. The mostly likely explanation is that they take better care of their health and avoid obesity vs poor people who tend to be shorter, more obese and suffer more from chronic diseases.

Why do shorter, smaller people compared to taller people of similar body proportions and life style have an advantage? Human somatic cells have a limited number of times that they can duplicate themselves to replace defective or dead cells. A smaller body uses up fewer cell duplications because it has fewer cells which are required to form and maintain the body over a lifetime. That's why Professors Maier, van Heemst and Westendorp found that shorter people had more potential cell duplications left at 90 years of age and tended to live longer. Women also have more potential cell duplications compared to taller men. Other reasons shorter people have an advantage include much lower DNA damage, lower intake of toxins due to consumption of less food, more efficient heart pumping, and lower cancer. Shorter people also have less skin cancer because they have a smaller surface area (and thus fewer cells) exposed to the sun's radiation. Many other factors, such beneficial changes in biological parameters, offer shorter people an advantage.

I would like to defuse any anxiety among tall people. Height is about 10% of the longevity picture so your economic class, nutrition, weight for height, smoking, stress management, medical care, etc. can offset your taller height. Thus, people of all heights have a good chance at reaching advanced ages when various positive factors come together. However, based on my research, the contemporary diet, rich in animal protein and processed food, promotes increased height, heart disease and other chronic diseases. In my opinion, we could be much healthier if we followed a moderately low caloric diet that is plant based throughout our lives. However, anyone thinking of making major changes to their diet, should consult with their doctor and a nutritionist.

I can continue discussing this subject for hours, including how height affects human performance and the environment. If you wish to learn more, go to Thomas T. Samaras' Research and Findings on Human Body Size

If you have questions or new facts on this subject, feel free to contact me.

Tom
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11-09-2013, 08:27 PM
RE: Do Taller People have a Shorter Life Expectancy?
(12-09-2012 06:48 PM)samarastt Wrote:  
(27-05-2011 12:33 PM)Indoril Wrote:  I've been told so many times that my life expectancy is shortened because of my height. I'm 6'7'', a giant among many, but so is the rest of my family. A lot of my older relatives have back problems because of our height, some even dislocated a disk. We have family who have a hunched back from working over a desk for long periods of time. Several have developed heart problems, myself included, because our blood needs to travel farther than those of medium to shorter heights.

About five years ago, my grandfather passed away. He was 6'4'', 180lbs, and 76 years of age. I've been told that my life expectancy is about 60-65, but my grandfather had died close to 80 years. So now I'm a bit pissed, but confused, are folks as tall as I am expected to pass on around 60 years of age?

(Please note, this question excludes the use of alcohol and drugs. This is directed more towards tall people who have had a balanced diet and live active/productive lives.)

Hi,

While the my research shows shorter people live longer, that does not mean you won't live a long time. John Kenneth Galbraith was 6'8" and lived to 98 years. There other tall men who lived to 100 years as well. Tall people who have a good lifestyle, healthful nutrition, exercise and don't smoke or drink can live a long time. Your weight for height is another important factor. Height is only about 10% of the longevity picture.
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