According to a comprehensive genetic study conducted by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs' Million Veteran Program (MVP), a person's height can influence their risk for a variety of prevalent health issues in adulthood.
A correlation between height and decreased risk of coronary heart disease was discovered, as well as a link between height and a higher risk of peripheral neuropathy and circulatory problems. The findings were published in the journal PLOS Genetics. The findings emphasise the link between height and chronic issues that affect Veterans’ lives.
Height isn’t usually thought to be a risk factor for diseases. However, previous study has found links between height and the probability of developing a variety of health problems. It’s unclear whether this correlation has a biological basis or is the result of other variables.
Much of a person’s height is determined by genes acquired from their parents. However, environmental factors such as diet, socioeconomic situation, and demographics all influence eventual height. As a result, establishing a link between height and disease risk is challenging.
Researchers at the VA looked at genetic and medical data from over 280,000 Veterans enrolled in MVP to see if there was a link. They compared these findings to a list of 3,290 genetic variations linked to height discovered in a previous genome scan. They discovered that the risk levels of 127 different medical disorders are linked to white patients’ genetically determined height.
Being taller was connected to a lower risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and coronary heart disease, according to the study. However, taller participants had a higher risk of atrial fibrillation. Previous study has demonstrated these links. Being tall, on the other hand, may raise the risk of the majority of non-cardiovascular illnesses studied. This was notably true with peripheral neuropathy and vein-related circulation diseases.
Damage to the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord, notably in the limbs, is known as peripheral neuropathy. Height has previously been associated to poorer neural conduction and nerve issues in research. The MVP study verifies this association by using genetic methods to demonstrate that tall persons have a higher chance of nerve issues.
Erectile dysfunction and urine retention, both of which are linked to neuropathy, were linked by the researchers to genetically predicted height. Cellulitis, skin abscesses, persistent leg ulcers, and osteomyelitis have all been connected to a person’s height. Being tall appears to increase the risk of circulation problems such varicose veins and blood clots in the veins. Height can also put you at risk for illnesses that aren’t related to neuropathy or circulation. People whose genetics predicted they would be tall were more likely to have toe and foot abnormalities, which can be caused by higher weight bearing in tall people.
Height was also linked to an increased incidence of asthma and non-specific nerve problems in women, but not in men, according to the study. According to the researchers, the findings suggest that height may be an unrecognised but biologically important and unchangeable risk factor for a variety of common conditions, particularly those affecting the extremities. They suggest that when measuring risk and disease surveillance, taking a person’s height into account may be beneficial.