Sunday 21 December 2014

Shorter men live longer, scientists find

Tom Cruise trys the Guinness at the Storehouse prior to the Irish Premiere of film ‘Oblivion’ at the Savoy cinema, Dublin Picture:Brian McEvoy
Jamie Cullum and Sophie Dahl

Shorter men are likely to live longer, scientists find, with those under five-foot-two reaching the greatest age

They may not have the easiest ride in life, enduring accusations of inferiority complexes and jokes at their expense, but it appears short men will have the last laugh after all.

Scientists have found evidence that they are likely to live longer, with those under five foot two having a greater chance of surviving to old age.

The news is likely to be welcomed by petite stars such as Ronnie Corbett, Jamie Cullum and Tom Cruise, as researchers confirm that size really does matter.

A study has shown that adult men under five foot two live longer than their taller rivals, with one researcher explaining: “The taller you got, the shorter you lived."

His team, at the University of Hawaii, found that shorter men were more likely to have a protective form of the longevity gene, FOXO3, leading to smaller body size during early development and a longer lifespan.

Shorter men were also more likely to have lower blood insulin levels and less cancer.

Dr Bradley Willcox, from the Department of Geriatric Medicine, said researchers had split people into two groups: those who were five-foot-two and shorter, and five-foot-four and taller.

"The folks that were five-foot-two and shorter lived the longest,” he said. “The range was seen all the way across from being five-foot tall to six-foot tall. The taller you got, the shorter you lived."

He added: "This study shows for the first time, that body size is linked to the FOXO3 gene.

"We knew that in animal models of aging. We did not know that in humans."

Dr. Willcox noted that there is no specific height or age range that should be targeted as a cut-off in the study, in part because "no matter how tall you are, you can still live a healthy lifestyle" to offset having a typical FOXO3 genotype rather than the longevity-enhancing form of the FOXO3 gene.

The study involved more than 8,000 American men of Japanese ancestry born between the years 1900 and 1919. The lifestyles and health conditions of these men were closely followed and studied by the researchers through the years.

Around 1,200 men from the study, published in the journal Plos One, lived into their 90s and 100s, and approximately 250 of those men are still alive today.

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