In the past, most experts believed taller individuals had advantages over short people. They associated tallness with increased health, especially in the formative years when most development occurs. After all, nutrient intake during childhood largely contributes to adult height. So, scientists found that shorter people sometimes suffer from developmental disorders and higher mortality due to nutrient deficiencies.
Because of this, you might conclude that tall people have better health and longevity than those of short stature. However, several studies published in the last two decades reveal why short people may have the upper hand. They might have to ask for help grabbing something off a high shelf, but that’s just a tiny inconvenience.
In return, they reap the benefits of increased longevity, lower risk of diseases, and reduced caloric needs. Because tall people have larger bones and organs, they need more calories to survive. So, shorter people have a clear advantage because they can spend less on groceries and use less energy to digest food. Below, we’ll explain why short people may have won the genetic lottery.
However, when reading this article, remember that many other factors contribute to one’s lifespan. Lifestyle habits such as exercising, eating a balanced diet, and practicing stress-management techniques also significantly influence life expectancy.
Studies Explain Why Short People Enjoy Increased Longevity
1. Short people have fewer diet-related chronic illnesses.
According to a 2003 study published in Life Sciences, researchers found a negative correlation between height and longevity. Their conclusions came from data on millions of deaths over 30 years. They found that people of a smaller size had lower mortality rates and fewer diet-related chronic diseases, especially after middle age. In addition, they appeared to have longer lifespans, with women outliving men in most cases.
Researchers believe that since short people need fewer calories to function, they have more significant longevity potential. Numerous studies have discovered that restricting calories reduces inflammation and slows the aging process, which can increase longevity.
2. They have fewer cells than tall people.
Having fewer cells offers several advantages to short people. For one, a lower cell count means a reduced risk of cell mutation, which can lead to numerous cancers. Also, if you’re tall, your body undergo more cell replications, but cell replacement rates slow down as you age. Therefore, taller people may not have enough cells to repair damaged tissues later in life.
Moreover, several studies have found a link between greater height and cancer risk. A 2016 study revealed that every additional inch increase in size resulted in a 7.1% greater risk of dying from cancer in men. For women, it led to a 5.7% increased risk of death from cancer.
In addition, a 2013 study of 144,701 postmenopausal women discovered that taller women had a higher cancer risk. Their height put them at risk for various thyroid, breast, colon, and ovary cancers. However, the authors note that several other factors may have influenced the findings.
For instance, smoking and alcohol consumption appeared to increase with height. Education level, income, ethnicity, and oral contraceptive and hormone therapy use may have also affected results. But size still had a statistically substantial impact on cancer development.
3. Short people have a genetic variation of the FOXO3 “longevity” gene.
Also called forkhead box protein O3, this gene is crucial to longevity. It may have a funny name, but researchers have found it provides extra protection from an untimely death. In one study, scientists examined how the FOXO3 gene impacts the lifespan of 8,003 American men of Japanese ancestry.
They discovered that shorter stature predicted greater longevity, especially in midlife. 5’2″ or shorter men lived the longest because they had a genetic variation of the “longevity” gene, which offered more protection against aging. In addition, the men had a lower cancer risk and lower fasting insulin levels than tall people. The FOXO3 gene plays a significant role in regulating insulin via the IGF-1 signaling pathway.
Other studies have also confirmed that specific genetic mutations of FOXO3 can lead to “exceptional” longevity.
4. They don’t suffer as many blood clots.
One study found that American women above 5’6″ experience blood clots more often than short people. Researchers believe having longer legs and veins may explain the increased risk of developing venous thromboembolism (VTE). However, other factors such as chronic comorbidities, obesity, older age, and male gender also increase the likelihood of blood clots.
5. They often have better respiratory and cardiovascular health.
A study of 18,403 civil servants in London found that taller people experienced more respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses. They discovered the strongest association between height and respiratory disease, while cardiovascular ailments had a moderate impact. Researchers believe short people have an advantage because their lungs function more optimally than taller individuals.
Another study involving over 2,600 Finnish athletes revealed that cross-country skiers were six inches shorter and lived about seven years longer than basketball players. Endurance athletes like skiers experienced lower cardiovascular mortality rates compared to athletes in team sports, such as basketball. However, they didn’t find any difference in longevity between the groups.
While these studies revealed the benefits of being short, many other factors contribute to overall health. You can improve your well-being by living within nature’s laws, whether short or tall. Sleep 7-8 hours nightly, eat a balanced, nourishing diet, exercise, manage stress, and get adequate sunlight. Both tall and short people who follow the pillars of health can increase their longevity.
Final Thoughts on Research Linking Short People With Increased Lifespan
Being short offers notable advantages, such as enhancing longevity and reducing disease risk. Multiple studies found that shorter people have lower incidences of cancer, heart disease, and respiratory illnesses. Also, they may have a genetic variation in a particular gene that protects against age-related diseases. Finally, people of shorter stature require fewer calories, which may increase their life expectancy by reducing inflammation. However, it’s important to remember that your height doesn’t determine your destiny. You can always take charge of your health by adopting positive lifestyle habits, such as meditating, eating a plant-based diet, and getting plenty of sunshine.