Tallness Comes with Higher Mortality in Two Cohorts of U.S. Army Officers, Which May Be Only Partly Cancer Related

Ulrich Mueller, Philipps-Universit├Ąt Marburg
Allan Mazur, Syracuse University

Taller people are known to have a lower general morbidity and mortality, except from cancer. Relevant factors - genetics, nutrition in childhood, higher upward mobility for tall people in many settings, fewer health hazards and better medical care for high status people, cohort effects - are highly intercorrelated. Here we study graduates of 1925 and 1950 of West Point, retired not disabled after 20+ years active service. Subjects came from middle class families, were rigorously selected for health as young adults, subjected to a healthy lifestyle regime for decades, medically well cared for ever since: The taller of both samples had an excess mortality between ages 60-75, leading to four more years lifespan for the shorter half, which is cancer related only in the younger cohort. Perhaps the higher cancer risk among tall people exists only for cohorts born after 1920. Tallness may be a mortality risk by additional mechanisms.

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Presented in Poster Session 4: Aging