New research from the world’s largest study of height and disease has found that being tall can affect your health. The study, led by Sridharan Raghavan of the Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center in the US, has been published in the journal PLOS Genetics.
As reported by The Guardian, the research has found that a person’s height increases and lowers their risk of a range of diseases. Specifically, taller people have a higher risk of peripheral neuropathy, as well as skin and bone infections, but a reduced risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
The study used data from the VA Million Veteran Program, including genetic and health information from over 200,000 white adults and over 50,000 black adults. It investigated over 1,000 conditions and traits, making it the largest study of height and disease ever.
Firstly, the findings show that being tall is associated with an increased risk of atrial fibrillation. According to the NHS, 'atrial fibrillation is a heart condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate.'
Secondly, researchers discovered a new link between being tall and an increased risk of peripheral neuropathy. According to Science Daily, 'peripheral neuropathy is damage to the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord, particularly in the limbs.'
And lastly, being tall can also be connected to an increased risk of varicose veins and skin and bone infections, such as leg and foot ulcers.
We found evidence that adult height may impact over 100 clinical traits, including several conditions associated with poor outcomes and quality of life – peripheral neuropathy, lower extremity ulcers, and chronic venous insufficiency. We conclude that height may be an unrecognised non-modifiable risk factor for several common conditions in adults.
However, the study also found that being tall appears to protect people from cardiovascular problems. It is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.