People often assume shorter persons to be younger than they really are. This is not just because of height but also because they tend to have a more youthful appearance. Such an assumption may sound complimentary or delightful to some short individuals, but not in all cases.
However, this observation raises a question: does it mean then that growing taller will make you age faster? Some people do wonder about this. Continue reading to find out whether this is the case.
Does Height Make You Look Older Quicker?
If you are asked to pick out the youngest in a group, chances are that you will pick the shortest person. This is more likely to happen if the individuals in the group are young people, especially teenagers. You’re not alone; many other people will make similar choices.
People just have the tendency to associate height to age, even when they are aware that it is not necessarily an accurate indicator.
Seeing how people assume taller persons to be older, there are people who wonder whether height can accelerate their aging clock. They are worried about this possibly making them look worse as they grow older.
However, there is no definitive scientific evidence that being tall will make you look worse as you grow older. People often observe that shorter persons look younger, but research hasn’t conclusively shown that older people will age faster.
There are certain reasons to assume that taller persons will age faster, though. A major one is that being tall causes your body to make more demands on organs and cells. This may lead to inefficiencies that could speed up the aging process.
The Longevity Question
Lifespan is an aspect that research shows that your height may play a role. But the evidence is conflicting at best.
There are researchers who say that being tall enhances longevity. On the other side of the divide are those who think it makes lifespan shorter.
There is a view that height is a sign of good living and prosperity. It indicates better nutrition and better hygiene – or so some believe. From this perspective, one would expect taller persons to be healthier and so live long.
For instance, the average height of men in America today is higher than it used to be in the 19th century. Male life expectancy in the U.S. today is around 75 years, on average. It was roughly 39 back in 1820.
There is also opposing evidence that shorter people live longer. It has been observed, for example, that countries in Europe known to have shorter people have higher number of centenarians than those with taller.
Another example is Japan, which many know for having a high number of centenarians. The people there are typically short, as in several Asian countries. Japanese women boast the longest life expectancy in the world at roughly 86-87 years. The average height of elderly Japanese women is estimated at about 5 feet.
Issues that May Impact Aging and Life Expectancy in Taller Individuals
While there may be no consensus on whether taller persons age faster or live a shorter life, they are believe to be more susceptible to some medical issues. These disorders may cause them to grow older faster or shorten their lifespan.
Among such issues are:
Blood clots – Researchers have observed that taller individuals are at a greater risk of blood clots. In one study, it was found that men who stood 6 feet tall, or higher, had 2.6 times higher risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE) than men who were 4 inches, or more, shorter. Blood clots can be deadly if they find their way to the lungs.
Heart disease – Persons who are tall are at a greater risk of having heart disease, or so the evidence suggests. Some experts say the reverse is the case, though. However, in Europe, countries with higher average height have been observed to record more deaths from heart disease than shorter countries. Several NBA (basketball) greats have also died due heart-related complications.
Cancer – Tall people tend to have more cells in their body. More cells means there is greater risk of mutation that can lead to cancer. Also, persons who are tall typically have more growth hormone, which can fuel tumor growth.
There are several other issues that can cause taller individuals to have a shorter lifespan. For instance, they have been observed to have more cases of respiratory issues.
What Can You Do?
If you are a tall person, it is possible that you are beginning to get fearful. Below are some tips you can use if that happens to be the case.
Don’t get yourself unnecessarily worked up over how your height can make you age faster or die quicker. Remember that stress is a killer. So, chill.
Take comfort in the fact that there is no consensus among researchers. While some say being tall can shorten your lifespan, others are singing a different tune.
Studies aren’t always enough for making generalizations. They sometimes have a low number of subjects. Besides, there are tall people living to a ripe old age.
Make healthy lifestyle choices
If height determines how long you live, it is safe to say it is to a low extent. Your overall lifestyle choices play greater role. Do you smoke or consume alcohol? What’s the level of stress in your life? Your answers to these questions carry more weight when it comes to longevity.
Watch your calorie intake
We’ve all been told how too much calories can be harmful to health. Therefore, it is important to regulate your intake.
Your body mass index (BMI) rises as you consume more calories. Generally, tall people tend to have a higher BMI than short people, even when they are healthy or look to be. But researchers have associated longer lifespan to lower readings.
You will do well to count your calorie consumption to put things under control. To highlight the importance of this; centenarians on the Japanese island of Okinawa are reported to consume fewer calories, compared to their peers in mainland Japan, both as children and adults.
There is no concrete evidence that being tall will make you age faster or look worse in old age. The only thing researchers have observed is that this may likely have adverse effect on your lifespan. Even at that, the evidence is rather conflicting.
There doesn’t seem to be any reason to get overly edgy that your height may bring about unpleasant outcomes in the future. The more important thing is to take good care of your health. Limit stress, quit smoking and reduce alcohol consumption. Keep your BMI in check – apart from cutting calories, you can also get help with this doing regular physical exercise.
Don’t worry too much about your height. Continue to live and enjoy your life, in a healthy manner. The society actually appears to have more preference for taller people.