Weird Facts about Tall and Short People by Lisa Collier Cool

On average, taller people score slightly higher on IQ tests than shorter people, according to a new study published in the journal PLOS Genetics.

If you tower over your neighbors, those findings may add inches to your ego. But don’t let height go to your head! Studies have linked both tallness and shortness to a variety of health risks and benefits.

Genes influence height and intelligence

Using data collected from twins and their parents—totalling nearly 8000 participants—researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder examined links found between elevated height and IQ.

Their findings suggest that two factors may be at play. First, it appears there are genes that influence both IQ and height, notes Matthew Keller, lead author of the study and assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder, in a statement.

“At the same time, it also looks like people who are taller are slightly more likely to choose mates who are smarter and vice versa,” adds Keller. “Such mate choice causes ‘IQ genes’ and ‘tall genes’ to become statistically associated with one another.”

Tallness comes with risks and benefits

Average intelligence isn’t the only thing that grows with height. If you are tall, you may also have a greater chance of:

  • Being bitten by bugs. The Scottish biting midge, a voracious blood-sucking bug, prefers taller and heavier people,found researchersat Rothamsted Research and the University of Aberdeen. Larger people provide larger targets, while producing more heat, moisture, carbon dioxide, and other chemicals that can attract insects.
  • Developing dangerous blood clots. Compared to shorter control groups, taller people are more likely to develop potentially life-threatening blood clots in the deep veins of their legs and other body parts, report researchers in Norway. In particular, the risk is heightened among men and women who are tall and obese.
  • Experiencing cancer. Compared to shorter peers, taller post-menopausal women are at greater risk of cancer, warn researchers in the journal of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. In particular, multiple myeloma, melanoma, and cancers of the thyroid, rectum, kidney, endometrium, colorectum, colon, ovary, and breast are associated with tallness.
  • Earning more money. On the upside, taller men may earn more money on average than shorter men, according to research conducted in Australia. It may be that shorter men experience discrimination in response to their stature, suggest the authors, while taller men may enjoy a boost in social status.

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Shortness comes with perks and dangers

Shortness also comes with its share of health benefits and risks. If you are short, you may have higher odds of:

  • Living longer. A recent study of nearly 500 men in Sardinia revealed that shorter fellows were likely to outlive their taller peers by an average of 2 years, based on their height at age 20. In addition, a research review published in Life Sciencesnoted that data compiled from millions of deaths suggests that people of short stature have longer lifespans.
  • Having children. According to researchers from the Netherlands, shorter women tend to have more children than taller ladies. The reasons remain unclear – but lead researcher, Gert Stulp, Ph.D., suspects that shorter women may spend more energy on reproduction. When it comes to men, Stulp found in a separate studythat those of average height appear to have the most children.
  • Developing heart disease. While deep vein blood clots are common among tall folk, the risk of cardiovascular disease in general is greater among short people. In fact, a systematic review of 52 studies found that shorter men and women are approximately 1.5 times more likely to develop symptoms and die from cardiovascular disease than taller people.
  • Having strong character and a sense of humor. John Schwartz, a reporter for The New York Times and author of Short: Walking Tall When You Are Not Tall, believes that many so-called problems associated with shortness have been manufactured or overblown by drug companies that market growth hormones. In an interview with NPR, he credits shortness and its associated stigma with pushing smaller people to work harder, become tougher, and develop a good sense of humor.

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Height predisposes one to cancer (tall) and (short) heart disease, stroke, Alzheimers and Diabetes

Tall people: Cancer

A new study suggests that taller women have a heightened risk for cancer, the No. 2 killer of U.S. women.
The study, published today in the Journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, found that taller women were more likely to develop cancers of the breasts, ovaries, kidneys, thyroid, endometrium, colon and rectum. They also had an increased risk for multiple myeloma and melanoma.
The study adds to mounting evidence connecting height and cancer risk. A 2012 study published in the journal PLoS One found that for every 5-centimeter (2-inch) increase in height above the average 5 feet, 3 inches, the risk of ovarian cancer rose 7 percent. And a 2011 study published in The Lancet found that taller women had an increased risk of 10 different cancers, including breast and skin cancer.

Short people: Heart Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease and Stroke
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, killing 616,000 people per year, according to the CDC. And, unlike cancer, it seems to affect shorter people more than their taller counterparts.
A 2010 review of 52 studies involving more than 3 million men and women found shorter people have a 50 percent higher risk of having deadly heart disease than tall people.
“It would be interesting to explore the possibility that short stature is connected with the risk of [coronary heart disease] and [heart attack] through the effect of smaller coronary artery diameter, and that smaller coronary arteries may be occluded earlier in life under similar risk conditions,” the authors wrote in their report, published in the European Heart Journal.

Stroke

Like heart disease, serious strokes are also more common among shorter people.
An Israeli study of more than 10,000 men, 364 of whom died from stroke, linked each 5-centimeter (2-inch) decrease in height with a 13 percent increase in fatal stroke risk. Men who were in the shortest quartile had a 54 percent higher risk of fatal stroke than men in the tallest quartile, according to the 2002 study published in the journal Stroke.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia in older people, affecting 5.2 million Americans, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. The risk increases with age and a family history of Alzheimer’s, highlighting the disease’s genetic roots. And according to a 2007 study, the risk is also higher for shorter people.
The study, which compared 239 Alzheimer’s patients with 341 healthy controls, found men who were taller than 5 feet 10 inches had a 59 percent lower risk of developing the disease than men who were shorter than 5 feet 6 inches. The study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Both: Diabetes

“Height might represent a strong indicator of nutritional status, especially in a study such as ours, which included many subjects who had lived as persecuted minorities in their childhood,” the authors wrote. “It could also be associated with environmental conditions in childhood and adolescence.”
While Type 2 diabetes is linked to weight, Type 1 diabetes — also called juvenile diabetes — may be linked to height.
“Taller children generally seem to experience increased risk for development of diabetes mellitus type 1, except perhaps during infancy or early adolescence,” according to a 2002 study published in the journal Pediatrics.
The cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown, but it’s thought result from an autoimmune attack on the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. Although it can occur at any age, it’s usually diagnosed in children, teens or young adults.
There is debate surrounding the link between height and diabetes, however, as other studies have suggested children with diabetes are similar in stature or even shorter than their non-diabetic peers.

 

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