Can Height Determine the Likelihood of Certain Illnesses?

Is Height a Factor in the Onset of Heart Disease, Cancer, or Diabetes?

By Will Reid, 9:00 am on

It’s no surprise to Cincinnati caregivers that genetic and lifestyle factors contribute to the possibility of developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. In recent years, researchers from around the world found connections between an individual’s height and the likelihood of having one of these medical conditions. In many instances, eating healthy, getting sufficient physical exercise and avoiding certain habits or products decreases the likelihood of being diagnosed later in life. Unfortunately, there is nothing that people can do about their height, but knowing your loved one’s risk of developing these diseases can help you both take precautions.

Scientists from the Harvard School of Medicine and Public Health along with researchers from the Department of Internal Medicine IV in Tubingen and the Institute for Diabetes Research and Metabolic Diseases in Munich became interested in the role that height played in conjunction with the potential for developing common disease processes. Through extensive studies, the groups learned that people over 64 inches in height had a greater likelihood of developing cancer. For every two inches over the baseline height, the risk potential increases. This may be due to the fact that taller people have more cells, which increases the likelihood of cancerous cells forming. On the other hand, the same people have a lesser chance of developing diabetes or heart disease.

Researchers theorize that taller people achieved their height in part by eating greater quantities of animal protein rich foods, which caused a hyper-nutritional state that encouraged growth. Genetics in this demographic of the population also developed more efficient insulin-growth-factor systems, which makes the body better able to use insulin. Fat metabolism is also more effective in taller people, which protects organs and blood vessels from sclerosis.

However, studies also indicate that the same IGF 1 and 2 systems may be the culprits behind malignant cell development because the systems encourage permanent cell growth and replication processes. The less active IGF systems in shorter people combined with narrower vascular pathways may be the reason behind a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease and diabetes development in that population sector.

Depending on your loved one’s height, he or she should see a doctor to determine any other risk factors regarding his or her health. If your loved one has been diagnosed with cancer, diabetes, or heart disease, turn to Home Care Assistance of Cincinnati. We provide comprehensive home care for local seniors to ensure their health and personal care needs are met in the comfort of home. To learn more about our services and schedule a free consultation, contact an experienced Care Manager at 513.891.2273 today.