Researchers have found that your height indicates the likelihood of the cause of your death.
The meta-analysis, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, examined over 130 studies, collecting data for 1.1 million people's heights and the causes of their death.
The study participants were born between the years 1900 and 1960. An overwhelming majority, 93 percent, lived in North America and Europe; 85 percent of the participants were Caucasian. The investigators controlled for the increase in average height over time.
The average height of men in the study was five feet eight, or 173 centimeters. The average height of women was five feet three, or 160 centimeters.
They found that short people are more likely to die from heart problems, strokes and mental illnesses, while tall people are more likely to die from cancer.
The link between height and mortality is not a new one according to David Batty, an epidemiology and public health researcher at the University College London, who was not part of the study. In the early days of insurance, companies linked height with survival, says Batty to MyHealthNewsDaily. Indeed, researchers consider this study, certainly the largest, to be one of confirmation, not discovery.
Height has been linked with cause of death for some time, because height can often be an indication of childhood conditions. How tall an adult is may not necessarily be how tall they could have been; genetic factors, as well as social circumstances, nutrition, or stress, have been named as childhood factors in adult height.
Plus, socioeconomic factors – heavily linked with height – influence people well into adulthood, as the socioeconomic class into which a person was born is greatly indicative of the socioeconomic class into which a person will live as an adult. People who are taller also tend to be hired at greater frequency than their shorter peers.
According to Batty, taller people are often leaner, exercise more often, and smoke in smaller numbers. They tend to have lower cholesterol and blood pressure, as a result, which is why shorter people tend to die in greater numbers from heart problems, notes Batty to MyHealthNewsDaily.
Meanwhile, taller people tend to have larger organs, increasing the likelihood of the development of cancerous cells.