Life Expectancy Factors – Height

June 28, 2017

One of the surprising factors impacting life expectancy is height. Shorter people live longer lives than tall people. This may be surprising for many reasons. For starters, statistics show that taller men earn more than their shorter counterparts, which would imply better health due to increased wealth. Yet this is not the case.

Several studies have been done to see whether being tall or short is better for life expectancy. These studies have found that shorter people live longer. This seems counter-intuitive as you would imagine increased height is representative of good nutrition and strength, and that shorter people would be less healthy and live shorter lives.

A study done on Sardinian soldiers who reach the age of 70 showed that those below approximately 5-foot-4 lived two years longer than their taller counterparts. A study of more than 2,600 elite Finnish athletes showed that cross-country skiers were 6 inches shorter and lived nearly seven years longer than basketball players. Also, Japanese people who reach 100 are 4 inches shorter, on average, than those who are 75. You are, it seems, less likely to live to 100 if you’re tall.

So why do short people live longer? Studies have shown that taller people have less effective lungs compared to their size – they have the same lung capacity as shorter people, but they have larger bodies. This means their blood is less effectively oxygenated, and it has further to go to reach their extremities. This increases the risk of blood clots and cardiovascular illnesses such as heart disease as more pressure is put on the heart due to the lower effectiveness of the lungs. It also means more risk of respiratory illnesses.

You are also more likely to get cancer if you are taller. There are more cells in the bodies of tall people therefore there is more risk of cancer as there are more cells that could mutate and become cancerous.

So you may earn less if you’re short, but you’ll make up the difference in extra years that you live!

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