When we think about factors that affect someone’s health, we typically think of living a healthy lifestyle and possessing healthy genes. But have you ever thought of height as one of these important genes? Recent studies show that when it comes to women’s health, it is possible that a woman’s height affects her health. While studies show that taller people are less likely to suffer from heart disease, a recent study has found that taller women may experience more troubles when it comes to healthy ageing.
At the annual meeting of the American Heart Association Specific Sessions, this new study was presented by its lead author, Wenjie Ma, who is a doctoral student at the Harvard University’s School of Public Health. Ma’s team of researchers investigated the data of a sample of 68,000 women who were enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study. When looking at the data, the team took a number of variables into consideration, such as smoking status, BMIs, physical activities and the women’s diets. The data on the health of the women was recorded in 1980. Among the women tested, the average age was 44 years old.
In 2012, the study follow-up continued. The researchers decided that the parameters for “healthy aging” would be no physical problems, no memory problems, no mental health limitations and a lack of 11 chronic diseases, which included kidney failure, cancer, and Type 2 diabetes. According to Ma, the women were placed into five groups based on height. The median heights of the groups were 62 inches, 63 inches, 64 inches, 66 inches and 68 inches.
The women in the 68-inch group were less likely to meet healthy aging criteria than those in the 62-inch group. When the researchers adjusted for factors such as marital status, ethnicity, family history of disease and menopause status, the findings remained unchanged. Scientists have yet to figure out why taller women are less likely to experience healthy aging. Researchers aim to answer this question in future studies.
The association between taller height and unhealthy aging appeared to be softened by sticking to a healthy diet. The researchers found that tall women who said they ate a healthy diet fared better in the way of healthy aging than those who didn’t. According to Ma, the healthy diet which appeared to have a positive effect had a lot of fruits, vegetable and whole grains.
The researchers acknowledged that while the study found an association, it does not prove that being taller is a direct cause of experiencing more health problems while aging. It is possible that this is a correlation due to other factors rather than a causal relationship. Further research will need to be done to see if these findings apply to other groups of people.
As further research comes out about this study, women of various heights can learn what to do to try to prevent health problems while aging. We cannot yet be sure whether these findings are significant, but it’s a good idea for all people to maintain healthy diets in order to avoid health issues later in life.