Disease risk can be predicted through several methods and factors. One of those significant factors is a person’s height. Researchers have already discovered that having a tall stature increases the risk of acquiring health conditions such as irregular heartbeat and varicose veins. This discovery is now supported by the latest research connecting height and health. The new batch of information has concluded that taller people are more prone to nerve, skin, and heart diseases.
According to the world’s most extensive study regarding the connection between height and disease, tall people have an increased risk of peripheral neuropathy. Aside from that, taller height is a risk factor for skin and bone infections.
It is said that height as a grown adult can be distinguished through gene variants. The findings are corroborated with the help of environmental factors like socioeconomic status. Scientists have tried to separate the effects by using genes to discern a person’s height. They connected those findings to fifty diseases — but there may be more that have not been discovered yet.
Sridharan Raghavan is the researcher who led the study about height and diseases. He is from Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center in the United States. Their study was published in an online science journal, PLOS Genetics. Sridharan and his colleagues from the University of Colorado gathered data from 323,793 former members of the US armed forces. The participants applied to a research program that aims to discover links between genes, environmental factors, and disease. This research program is named the VA Million Veteran Program. It was the largest study of height and illness, as it gathered genetic data and health information from 200,000 white and 50,000 black adults.
“We used genetically predicted height to identify conditions truly associated with height – in other words, conditions that were unlikely to be associated with height spuriously due to correlations with other factors that affect both height and a clinical condition,” says Raghavan. There were 3,290 gene variants discovered to affect height, and they were associated with 1,000 clinical traits.
Raghavan was interested in the findings connecting peripheral neuropathy with height. He and his colleagues have confirmed that most patients diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy have tall stature and show the disease’s worst symptoms.
“Genetically predicted height and measured height are well correlated, [so in the clinic] a tape measure would suffice,” Raghavan shared. “Our findings are a first step towards potentially including height in disease risk assessment, in that we identify conditions for which height might truly be a risk factor.” Lastly, Raghavan also shared that having participants from MVP helped a lot in terms of diversity. It has provided them with enough data to not limit them to one ethnicity.
“Future work will have to evaluate whether incorporating height into disease risk assessments can inform strategies to modify other risk factors for specific conditions,” he added.Whizzco