Besides having on average larger feet than short people, a new study shows tall people are also more at risk for getting cancer and less at risk for developing cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes, a less obvious inclination.
In a new study published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology,
a collaborative group of researchers from the Deutsches Zentrum fuer Diabetesforschung (DZD), the Institute for Diabetes Research and Metabolic Diseases of Helmholtz, the University of Tübingen (IDM), the German Institute of Human Nutrition in Potsdam (DIfE), and the Harvard School of Public Health and Medical School used epidemiological data to draw conclusions about the long-term health of tall people versus short people.
Scientists from this study explained that the certain predispositions to disease associated with tall people start during development in the womb with the nutritional health of the mother. Overnutrition with high-calorie foods dense in animal proteins in utero
and after birth during early development supposedly provide a “lifelong programming” that increase the life risk of tall people developing cancer. Foods like:
- Other dairy products
- Other animal proteins
What is about a high-calorie diet that increases a person’s risk for getting cancer? Isn’t milk supposed to build strong bones and teeth? The scientists from this study believe that tall people develop increased sensitivity to insulin as well as have less fat in the liver as a result of their diet at an early age. While this insulin sensitivity gives tall people greater protection from cardiovascular disease and diabetes, it only increases the risk of cancer.
The risk of cancer from a high-calorie diet comes from the activation of the Insulin Growth Factor (IGF)-1/2 system, a network of binding proteins regulated by “multiple factors including growth factors, cytokines, lipoproteins, reactive oxygen species” (Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology
). Although the exact mechanisms have not yet been determined, scientists believe that the connection between the IGF-1/2 system and increased risk of cancer centers on these growth factors stimulating abnormal cell growth.
Although many specific players in the relationship between tall people and cancer risk have yet to be identified, this study does speak an important message on prevention and awareness. Tall people should more often be targets for prevention, and diet is clearly more important in the development of chronic, non-communicable diseases than scientists previously thought.