How Your Height Might Affect Your Health

Most kids love hearing people comment on how tall they're getting. In some circles, particularly homes where sports like volleyball or basketball are revered and often played, being tall is considered a definite plus. But new research has emerged that suggests being taller — or significantly shorter than average — isn't necessarily better in terms of health and may even pose health risks.

Part of the impact comes from how your height might affect your organs, studies say, such as one published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics.1 Scientists explored how height and venous thromboembolism, the third leading cause of heart attack and stroke, may be associated. According to the study, the condition is also known as VTE and the more simple term "blood clots."

Evaluating a group of more than 2 million Swedish siblings, men shorter than 5 feet 3 inches in height had a 65 percent lower chance of acquiring VTE, a type of blood clot that begins in a vein, when compared to men taller than 6 feet 2 inches.

Other aspects of the study included pregnant women, who are more prone to develop this type of blood clot, and the finding that those shorter than 5 feet 1 inch had a 69 percent lower incidence of the condition compared to women over 6 feet. That supports the premise of another interesting study from 2003 that suggests shorter people are, on average, the ones with longer lifespans.2 According to CNN:

"Among men, an association with height was found for risk of blood clots in the lungs, called pulmonary embolism, as well as in the legs and other locations. Among women, only the risk of blood clots in the legs was significantly associated with height."3

Some scientists questioned the fact that the studies focused on Swedish individuals and how that might relate to people in the U.S., but others maintain that Sweden is just as ethnically diverse as populations in the U.S.


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