New studies from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have found some startling health concerns for individuals who are both above and below average in height.
The CDC’s study suggests taller women have an increased risk of ten different types of cancers, such as breast and skin cancer, while taller men have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer. According to British researchers who reviewed data from 47 studies with 100,000 women; for every 2-inch increase in height (above the 5 ft. 3 inch average), the risk of ovarian cancer rose 7 percent, according to a study in the PLoS Medicine, an open-access medical journal, providing an innovative and influential venue for research and comment on the major challenges to human health worldwide.
2. Heart Disease
While taller individuals may have a higher risk of getting cancer, shorter people have a higher risk of heart disease. Recent reviews of 52 studies involving over 3 million men and women found shorter people have a 50 percent higher risk of having a deadly heart disease than taller people.
The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study in 2006 examining identical twins that died from coronary heart disease. The study found that identical twins tended to be the shorter co-twin, suggesting the height-heart disease link stems from environmental factors that affect height and heart disease risk rather than genetics.
Like heart disease, serious strokes that can result in fatalities are also more common among shorter people according to a 2002 study published in the journal Stroke.
An Israeli study of more than 10,000 men (364 of whom died from stroke) linked each 2-inch height increase with a 13 percent increase in fatal stroke risk. Men who were the shortest among their peers had a 54 percent higher risk of fatal stroke than men in the tallest percentile.
“Height might represent a strong indicator of nutritional status, especially in a study such as ours, which included many subjects who had lived as persecuted minorities in their childhood," the authors wrote. "It could also be associated with environmental conditions in childhood and adolescence."
4. Alzheimer’s Disease
A study published in 2007 in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, stated that the risk of developing Alzheimer’s is higher for shorter people.
The study, which compared 239 Alzheimer's patients with 341 healthy patients who served as control subjects, found that men who were taller than 5 feet 10 inches had a 59 percent lower risk of developing the disease than men who were shorter than 5 feet 6 inches.
According to a 2002 study published in the journal Pediatrics, type 2 diabetes is primarily linked to weight while type 1 diabetes may be linked to height.
Regardless of the aforementioned findings correlating height and one’s risk of developing disease, the most important thing to remember is leading a healthy, balanced life. Healthy eating habits, exercise, genetics and environmental factors all play into one’s overall health and can offset illness and disease.
"Whether you're tall or short, staying away from tobacco, being physically active, eating a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy are beneficial behaviors for everyone," he said. "And get the recommended cancer screening tests, regardless of height."