The Taller the Man, the Less Likely the Heart Failure?

Which coffee cup do YOU think will outlive the other?<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/13584435@N00/491064256/">Kanaka Menehune</a>/Flickr

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


Tall men, it seems, tend to get everything in life. Heightened self-esteem, better returns in the dating world, fatter paychecks, racial-stereotype-defying careers in professional sports.

And according to some Boston medical researchers, vertically gifted gents may also have naturally superior odds at dodging heart disease than you short folk do.

Or maybe they don’t.

Reuters reports on the decidedly wishy-washy study:

Tall men appear less likely than shorter ones to develop heart failure, according to a study covering thousands of U.S. doctors. Researchers in Boston said that while there is no proof that a few extra centimeters protect the heart, it was possible that short and tall people are different in other ways, including in their diets or diseases growing up, and that this too could affect heart risks.

This study doesn’t say anything definite about whether height, itself, is going to lead to anything,” said lead researcher Luc Djousse, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical Center.

But the researchers…said it’s also possible that something about the biology of taller people, such as the distance between their hearts and certain branches of arteries and blood vessels, could decrease stress on the heart. Data came from 22,000 male doctors who were followed as part of a large study of heart disease and cancer, starting when they were in their mid-50s, on average…The taller men were, the lower their chance of heart failure, the researchers found. The tallest men in the study, those over 1.8 meter (six feet), were 24 percent less likely to less likely to report a heart failure diagnosis during the study period than men who were 1.72 meters (5 ft 8 in) and shorter.

It’s important to remember how this (just like countless other scientific studies out there) isn’t in any way conclusive, which, to be fair, the researchers fully and openly acknowledge. The height-focused part of their study, published in the current issue of the American Journal of Cardiology, sounds at least somewhat plausible: A taller frame could mean that it takes more time for blood to reach the heart, meaning less stress for the vital organ.

However, since that point is caveated to hell—infections, childhood nutrition, and other factors that can affect both heart health and height—there’s no cause to believe that Jamie Cullum is destined to cardiovascularly buy the farm years before Bob Saget does. Also, it’s worth mentioning that the medical journal The Lancet Oncology published a study in July 2011 showing a possible link between greater height and increased risk of ten common types of cancer, so there’s really no point in inferring that taller individuals are biological X-Men.

But it’s not like that is going to stop people from wondering whether being tall gets you elected President of the United States.

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. It's our first time asking for an outpouring of support since screams of FAKE NEWS and so much of what Trump stood for made everything we do so visceral. Like most newsrooms, we face incredibly hard budget realities, and it's unnerving needing to raise big money when traffic is down.

So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate