Shorter Men Have Longer Lives
But lifestyle still plays an important role, study authors note
By Derek Andersen, Newser User
Posted May 16, 2014 8:52 AM CDT
Jiroemon Kimura lived to be 116, making him the oldest man in recorded history. No word on how tall he was.   (AP Photo/Kyotango City, File)

(Newser) – FOXO3—what a gene: Men who get a "protective" version of it will experience a number of longevity-related upsides: It contributes to regulating insulin, suppressing tumors, and protecting cells from oxidative stress. But it's also likely to make them short. Such is the conclusion of a study of roughly 8,000 Japanese-American men in Hawaii. These men, born between 1900 and 1919, were split into two groups (5-foot-2 and shorter, and 5-foot-4 and taller) and tracked for more than 40 years beginning in 1965, reports Popular Science. "This study shows for the first time that body size is linked to this gene," says researcher Bradley Willcox. "We knew that in animal models of aging. We did not know that in humans." About 250 of the study's subjects are still alive today.

The situation is not entirely straightforward, however. The authors of the study, published in PlosOne, point out that although the gene's role in regulating insulin seems to be its key link to longevity, there are a number of complicating factors, and the hypothesis needs to be tested in a more diverse group of subjects. Willcox was categorical in stating of his test subjects that "the folks that were 5-2 and shorter lived the longest. The taller you got, the shorter you lived." But the study points out that conditions in early childhood, diet, and other variables contribute to one's height and health as well. Thus, Willcox advises that "no matter how tall you are," living a healthy lifestyle can help offset a less-than-favorable version of FOXO3. (Another recent study found that short man syndrome is real.)

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Showing 3 of 19 comments
iq145
Jul 10, 2014 10:12 PM CDT
This explains the japanese...
samarastt
Jun 3, 2014 11:14 AM CDT
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. These include: 1. Fewer cell replications allow a reserve of cells for use during old age. 2. Insulin and other growth factors are lower and low levels are related to greater longevity. 3. Smaller left ventricular mass of the heart is related to reduced heart failure and all-cause mortality. 4. Lower levels of C-reactive protein, homocysteine, and glucose reduce mortality. 5. Lower blood pressure. 6. Lower damage to DNA. 7. Lower free radical generation with reduced cell damage. 8. Higher sex hormone binding globulin (low levels have a variety of harmful effects.) 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 over a wide range of heights. For more information on how our physiology, performance and impact on resources and the environment change with increasing body size, see http://www.humanbodysize.com The book, The Truth About Your Height, provides information on height as well.
Who_Cares
May 18, 2014 5:24 PM CDT
"shorter man", do they mean like a shorter down there?