Tall story? Do short men live longer?

Good news for short men - you should be destined for a longer life.

New research has found that short men tend to live longer than their taller counterparts.


A US study of 8,000 men found that shorter men live longer than their taller peers, with those below 5ft 2in living the longest.

The research, conducted by scientists at the University of Hawaii, suggests that short stature may be related to a gene that is linked to longevity. 

Published in the journal Plos One, the study tracked thousands of American men of Japanese ancestry born between the years 1900 and 1919.

Researchers studied the lifestyles and health conditions of these men closely. Over 1000 of the group lived into their 90s and 100s, and approximately 250 of those men are still alive today.

A form of the gene, called FOXO3, leads to smaller body size during early development but it has also been linked to having a longer life span.

Researcher at the University of Hawaii, Professor Bradley Willcox, said: “We split people into two groups – those that were 5-foot-2 and shorter, and 5-4 and taller.

“The folks that were 5-2 and shorter lived the longest. The range was seen all the way across from being 5-foot tall to 6-foot tall. The taller you got, the shorter you lived.”

The results could be linked to the fact that shorter men are more likely to have lower blood insulin levels and less likely to have cancer in their lifetime.

So, it seems that even though it may not fit with the ‘tall, dark and handsome’ ideal favoured by most women, being short can definitely can its advantages.

If the results are anything to go by, being short may measure up to a long and health life.

Professor Willcox said that even though the findings are not absolute, they do provide a strong link between height and longevity.

Professor Willcox said: “No matter how tall you are, you can still live a healthy lifestyle.

“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. We have the same or a slightly different version in mice, roundworms, flies, even yeast has a version of this gene, and it’s important in longevity across all these species.”


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    • thomas samaras

      17 May 2014 • 00:04

      I have studied longevity and height for about 40 years and I have published in about 40 medical, nutritional, and scientific journals and books. My work has found a longevity advantage for shorter people. A number of biological mechanisms are at work to promote longevity for smaller people.

      The above assumes similar economic status, lifestyle, and body proportions. Height is about 10% of the longevity picture. Therefore, tall people can offset their tall height by improved nutrition, lower weight and lifestyle habits. However, I found that we lose about 1.3 years per inch of increased height.

      For more information on how our physiology, performance and impact on resources and the environment change with increasing body size, see http://www.humanbodysize.
      The book, The Truth About Your Height, provides information on height as well.


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