Body size determines greater risk and vulnerability

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Of: jennifer koellen

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Studies show that tall people are more likely to get cancer, while short people are more likely to get diabetes. © Elena Helade/imago

Scientific studies show that body size influences the diseases we get. People big and small should know that.

Hanover – Does height determine the risk of developing cancer or diabetes? That’s the way it is. Scientific studies show that the fact that we are tall or short influences the diseases that we can contract throughout our lives. But what diseases are we most susceptible to? And how can we take countermeasures, for example with sports or a healthy diet, and stay healthy?

Cancer and diabetes: body size also determines risk and susceptibility

Because the reason why we get sick in the course of our lives can be due to very different reasons. For one thing, genes play a role. But environmental factors like stress or the wrong diet can also make us sick. Various studies show that body size is also a decisive factor in the susceptibility we have to certain diseases such as cancer or diabetes.

But there are good news. Large and small people are also less susceptible to some diseases.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier shakes hands with Dirk Nowitzki
The size difference cannot be overlooked: Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier (right) and former basketball player Dirk Nowitzki. © Shan Yuqi/imago

A new American study demonstrates the connection between altitude and diseases

In previous studies, it was not clear whether body size itself represents the real risk or whether there are factors that affect it.

A team led by physician Sridharan Raghavan of the University of Colorado is now investigating the connections between various diseases and a person’s actual height. The results were published on the science portal. Plos Genetics released. Using a database containing genetic and health information, the team analyzed information on more than 250,000 adults for more than 1,000 diseases and traits.

Tall people have a higher risk of atrial fibrillation, but less heart disease and high blood pressure.

The study shows that while tall people are more prone to certain diseases, others are less likely to get them. According to the American study, tall people have a higher risk of:

  • atrial fibrillation
  • varicose veins
  • peripheral neuropathy caused by nerve damage in the extremities
  • skin and bone infections
  • leg and foot ulcers

The good: Tall people have a lower risk of

  • coronary heart disease
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol

Tall people have a higher risk of cancer and tumors: the probability increases by ten percent for every ten centimeters.

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside found in 2018 that tall people have a slightly higher risk of cancer than people of normal size. The reason: you have more cells that can degenerate. This increases the chance of developing a tumor. “The probability is given as 10 percent for every additional 10 centimeters,” writes the south german newspaper.

Biologist Leonard Nunney’s study analyzed data from four large cancer studies, each with more than 10,000 participants. “Based on a height of 1.62 meters for women and 1.75 meters for men, their calculations showed that due to the increase in the number of cells with a deviation of more than ten centimeters, the risk of a new malignant disease in women it is 13 percent and in men it increases by eleven percent.”

German study shows: Short people have a higher risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes

And the health of the smallest people? In a 2019 study, German researchers looked at the connection between short people and certain diseases. And it found that short people are more susceptible to type 2 diabetes.

For the study, Clemens Wittenbecher of the German Institute for Human Nutrition in Potsdam and his team analyzed data from 2,662 German participants in the so-called EPIC study from 1994 and 1998. For this purpose, the people were monitored over a longer period of time.

The surprising result: for every 10 centimeters more in height, the risk of diabetes decreases by 41 percent in men and 33 percent in women. One reason: Tall people have less liver fat on average and a healthier metabolic profile.

Diseases such as thrombosis and diabetes: This is how young and old can take precautions

For Norbert Stefan, professor of clinical-experimental diabetology at the University Hospital of Tübingen, the result of the study is not surprising: it has been known for years that body size has a direct or indirect influence on certain disease risks. But what can people big and small do to make provisions?

Tall people have long veins in their legs, Stefan says, so blood must be pumped a longer route to the heart, increasing the risk of thrombosis. Consequently, tall people in particular should exercise regularly on long-haul flights or long car rides, drink enough, and wear support stockings on the plane.

Diabetes and heart attack: short people are at higher risk of these diseases

In short people, on the other hand, the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart attack is greater, regardless of the respective body fat mass: “If these people gain weight, their risk is significantly higher than in tall people who gain more weight. “. ”, emphasizes the diabetologist: “So, the smaller, the more agile you have to be”.

Prevention against cancer, heart attack or diabetes: those who exercise live longer

But sport is also good for tall people, and even prolongs life: In a study, scientists from Maastricht University examined the connection between height, body mass index (BMI) and physical activity. The result: “Men who exercised for more than 90 minutes a day were 39% more likely to live to age 90 than those who exercised less than 30 minutes a day. Women who exercised 30 to 60 minutes a day were 21% more likely to live to age 90 than those who exercised less than 30 minutes a day,” she writes. Business Insider.

An hour and a half of sport every day. Who has time for that? Whether big or small. We should not let all the studies stress us out. A life with a healthy diet, regular exercise and as little stress as possible is definitely beneficial. This emerges from subsequent scientific work. Other studies on life expectancy show that the wrong lifestyle can cost you 22 years. But if you want to live a long life and stay healthy, you definitely need to quit smoking, along with healthy nutrition and exercise, and most of all quit smoking. (With material from the dpa)

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