A new study published in PLOS Genetics has determined that height may impact the risk of certain health conditions.
The study used genetic data from over 250,000 people in the U.S. Veterans Affairs Million Veteran Program. Previous research has suggested a relationship between height and the risk of certain health conditions, but the exact relationship is unclear. Height is determined by both genetics and environmental factors, like nutrition during childhood, socioeconomic status, age, and gender. In previous research, separating genetics from environmental factors in determining risk has been difficult. This study focused only on genetic and medical data to explore the relationship between genetically predicted height and risk of health conditions.
The study found that 127 medical conditions in white patients could be linked to the genetically predicted height of those patients. Data in other populations were less available and thus links could not be well determined. However, in this study, links between height and medical conditions seems to be consistent across Black and white patients.
The major findings of this study were that being tall appears to lower the risk of cardiovascular issues, and it also seems to lower the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and coronary heart disease. However, taller people are at greater risk of atrial fibrillation, peripheral neuropathy, and some circulatory conditions. In general, being tall seemed to lower the risk of most cardiovascular problems but raise the risk of most non-cardiovascular problems in the study.
While these findings are important, lifestyle factors are also essential for determining the risk of many heart and health conditions. Diet and regular exercise and important for achieving and maintaining heart and overall health.