Study: Height May Be A Risk Factor For A Variety Of Health Conditions

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The data show that in the United States, the average height of women is 163 cm, and the average height of men is 175 cm. Although these are averages, the range is quite wide. Many people are much taller or shorter than the average* Obviously, whether it is lower or higher than the average level, it has its advantages and disadvantages *. For example, short people may be unhappy when they can't reach the top shelf, but they may enjoy the extra leg space on the plane.. Moreover, height differences may go beyond the obvious and ordinary range and affect the risk factors of many common health problems.

A large genetic study conducted by the million veterans program (MVP) of the US Department of Veterans Affairs has found that a person's height may affect their risk of suffering from several common health conditions in adulthood. Important findings include the association between height and a lower risk of coronary heart disease, and the association between height and a higher risk of peripheral neuropathy and circulatory disease.

These results were published in [plos genetics] on June 2, 2022( ) 》In magazines.

Dr. Sridharan Raghavan of the Veterans' medical system in eastern Colorado, who led the study, described the results as "an important contribution to understanding the relationship between height and clinical symptoms from an epidemiological perspective". Raghavan says more research is needed before these findings can lead to changes in clinical care. However, these results highlight the association between height and clinical conditions that affect the lives of veterans. He explained: "our research has a wide range and produced a list of clinical conditions related to height predicted by genetics. In other words, these are conditions that height may be a risk factor or protective factor, regardless of other environmental conditions that may also affect height and health."

Height is not usually considered a risk factor for disease. But past studies have shown a link between a person's height and their likelihood of experiencing some health conditions. What is not well understood is whether this association has a biological basis or is caused by other factors.

How tall a person grows in adulthood is partly due to genes inherited from his parents. However, environmental factors such as nutrition, socio-economic status, and demographics (e.g., age or gender) also play a role in determining final height. This is why it may be difficult to determine the link between height and disease risk.

Researchers found 127 medical conditions related to height

To explore this link, researchers from the Department of Veterans Affairs looked at genetic and medical data from more than 280000 veterans who joined MVP. They compared these data with a list of 3290 genetic variants associated with height in a recent genome analysis.

They found that the risk levels of 127 different medical conditions could be related to the genetic prediction of height in white patients. Because black patients are less represented in genetic studies, there is less data on this population. However, in this analysis, the medical characteristics related to height were basically the same in black and white patients. In the MVP study, about 21 percent of veterans were black. At least 48 associations found in white patients also apply to black patients. All the most important findings - height associated with a low risk of coronary heart disease and a high risk of atrial fibrillation, peripheral neuropathy and circulatory disease - were found in black and white participants, the researchers said.

Height may increase the risk of some diseases and decrease the risk of others

Overall, genetically predicted height is associated with lower and higher disease risk, depending on the condition. Being tall seems to protect people from cardiovascular disease. The study linked height to lower risk of hypertension, high cholesterol and coronary heart disease. But taller participants had a higher risk of atrial fibrillation. These associations have been shown in previous studies.

Conversely, height may increase the risk of most non cardiovascular diseases considered in the study. This is especially true in peripheral neuropathy and circulatory diseases involving veins.

Peripheral neuropathy is damage to nerves outside the brain and spinal cord, especially in the limbs. Previous studies have linked height to slower nerve conduction and neurological problems. MVP studies confirm this link, using genetic tools to show that taller people are at higher risk for neurological problems.

The researchers linked genetically predicted height to symptoms such as erectile dysfunction and urinary retention, both of which are associated with neuropathy.

Raghavan said the findings about peripheral neuropathy were "particularly interesting". He discussed this finding with clinical colleagues who often see patients with peripheral neuropathy. Raghavan's colleagues confirmed that tall people tend to show the most severe neuropathy, but they were unaware that other studies have described this association.

Cellulitis, skin abscess, chronic leg ulcer and osteomyelitis are also related to height. Being tall also seems to increase the risk of circulatory diseases, such as varicose veins and thrombosis.

Height may also increase the risk of other diseases unrelated to neuropathy or circulation. Toe and foot deformities may be caused by the increased weight of tall people, and are more common in people who are genetically predicted to be tall.

The study also showed that height increased the risk of asthma and nonspecific neurological diseases in women, but not in men.

Taken together, these results suggest that height may be an unrecognized but biologically important and unalterable risk factor for several common diseases, especially those affecting the limbs, the researchers said. They say it may be useful to consider a person's height when assessing risk and disease surveillance.

Raghavan said more work was needed before the study could be translated into clinical care. He explained: "I think our findings are the first step towards disease risk assessment, because we have determined that height may really be a risk factor. Future work will have to assess whether the inclusion of height in disease risk assessment can provide information for strategies to modify other risk factors for a specific disease."

Future work will also focus on the underlying mechanisms that link height to these health conditions, the researchers said.

Researchers from several veterans' health centers participated in the study, including but not limited to Dr. Tim assimes from the Veterans' Palo Alto health system; Dr. Yan sun from Atlanta veterans medical center; And Dr. Chris O'Donnell, one of the national leaders of MVP, who previously worked in the Veterans' Boston health care system and now works at Novartis.

MVP is a U.S. national research program designed to understand how genes, lifestyle and military exposure affect health and disease. Since its launch in 2011, more than 885000 veterans have joined MVP, making it one of the largest genetics and health programs in the world.

Raghavan explained that such a study would not have been possible without MVP. He said: "MVP is extremely important for these types of studies. By linking clinical data with genetic data, we can study clinical outcomes that are not often collected in other types of observational cohort data. For example, in our study, some strong associations - with peripheral neuropathy, venous insufficiency, osteomyelitis, foot ulcer - are not routinely collected in many other data, including genetics. This association is important for research And translating the findings into clinical care. "

In addition to the number of participants, the MVP also allows research that was previously impossible because veterans from many different groups across the United States are involved. "Another important contribution of MVP is its diversity," Raghavan explained. "Although most of the participants were white, there were also a large number of black and Hispanic participants, who were underrepresented in previous genetic studies."

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