A new massive study confirms that you are tall, you are at risk for a number of diseases

Standing head and shoulders above the crowd has its advantages – but those extra inches can come at a price. According to a new study, high is mainly associated with a number of diseases, from varicose veins to damage to peripheral nerves.

An international team of researchers has compared height measurements, both genetic and physical, with more than a thousand traits in more than 280,000 adults in the United States, confirming suspicions that altitude is linked to a number of common diseases.

“Using genetic techniques applied to the VA Million Veteran program, we found evidence that adult height can affect more than 100 clinical traits, including several conditions associated with poor performance and quality of life – peripheral neuropathy, lower limb ulcers and chronic venous insufficiency, “said lead author Sridharan Raghavan of the Rocky Mountain Regional Medical Center in the United States.

“We conclude that height may be an unrecognized invariable risk factor for several common adult conditions.”

Scientists have known for some time that tall people are at greater risk for various types of cancer, not to mention conditions such as aortic rupture and pulmonary embolism.

Not that lower people have it much better, they face increased chances of coronary heart disease, stroke, liver disease and mental health disorders.

What is unclear is whether these health challenges are related in particular to altitude biology, or whether they are the result of environmental conditions such as poor nutrition or harmful sociocultural effects, which can also affect one’s growth.

Going beyond the simple comparisons of measured height and medical reports, this latest analysis uses genetic data related to the clinical records of more than 200,000 white and 50,000 black adults from the United States Millions of Veterans Program.

Using a method of linking genes with known functions to the presence of disease, the team tried to compare thousands of genetic variations known to affect a person’s height with more than a thousand disease-related characteristics.

A similar comparison was made based on measured heights, which averaged 176 centimeters (5 feet 9 inches).

Given previous studies using similar methods, looking at no more than 50 traits, using far smaller genetic databases, the new analysis can be considered the largest of its kind.

The results support previous studies that found that taller people feel better when it comes to cardiovascular disease such as hypertension, hyperlipidemia and coronary heart disease, at the cost of more susceptibility to atrial fibrillation and varicose veins.

They also added several other conditions to the risk list, including skin and bone infections and a type of limb nerve damage called peripheral neuropathy.

Due to the fact that the sample size is so large, the team is also improving the role that gender can play, with asthma and non-specific peripheral nervous disorders associated with increased growth in women but not in men.

Outlining closer links between multiple growth genes and different pathological traits makes it less likely to point the finger at pooled environmental causes or even the influence of body weight – but it still doesn’t explain how diseases can be the result of high genes. .

Further research could help smooth out the causal link by identifying the underlying biochemistry or pinpointing how physical size is reflected back in the functioning of our body.

Future research would also help exacerbate some of the weaknesses of the study by using more appropriate genetic libraries that are expanding beyond European origins and sampling the wider population to include more blacks and Spanish populations, veterans and women.

We can’t do much about our height, but knowing how it relates to our health can at least help us stay vigilant about things we can do something about.

This study was published in PLOS Genetics.

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