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Research Shows High Can Increase Disease Risk

By Erik Gans, 9:00 am on

According to a study published recently by The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, taller people have a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, but a higher risk for cancer mortality. The research, conductedby Dutch scientists from the Department of Internal Medicine IV in Tübingen and the Institute for Diabetes Research and Metabolic Diseases of Helmholtz Zentrum München at the University of Tübingen, strives to discover whether increased human height in recent decades has an impact on disease risk and mortality. 

According to Fairfield senior care agencies, the findings of the study indicate that for each additional 6.5 centimeters (about 2.5 inches) in height, the risk of cardiovascular mortality decreases by 6 percent while at the same time, risk for cancer mortality increases by 4 percent. This is true even when other risk factors, including body mass index, are discounted.

According to researchers, there are multiple possible reasons for this phenomenon. Their primary theory notes that increased height may result from the consumption of high-calorie foods rich in animal proteins during key stages of growth. This can lead to the activation of insulin-like growth factor that causes the body to become more sensitive to insulin, which reduces diabetes risk. However, it also permanently activates cell growth, increasing the risk of developing certain cancers, especially breast cancer, colon cancer, and melanoma. The decreased diabetes and cardiovascular risk may also be attributed to the fact that taller individuals tend to have lower fat content in the liver.

While more research is needed, this study highlights the need for increased cancer prevention among tall individuals, as well as the importance of nutrition at various stages of development–including in utero, which is when scientists suspect these mechanisms are first activated. While height can’t be controlled, other cancer risk factors, such as activity level and diet, can be adjusted to help prevent disease.

Make sure your senior loved one has the support he or she needs to maintain a balanced and healthy lifestyle with help from Home Care Assistance. Our expertly trained Fairfield caregivers can cook healthy meals, help with regular physical activity, and promote cognitive stimulation. For more information, call 203-955-1915 and speak with a friendly Care Manager today.