Tallness Comes with Higher Mortality in Two Cohorts of U.S. Army Officers

Ulrich O. Mueller, University of Marburg
Allan Mazur, Syracuse University

In general, taller people have a lower general morbidity and mortality, the only notable exception being cancer. The underlying causality is complex, because all relevant factors: genetics, nutritional status in childhood, upward social mobility for tall people, fewer health hazards, better medical care for high status people are highly intercorrelated. Here we study two special samples: graduates of the classes of 1925 and 1950 from the U.S, Military Academy at West Point, retired without disability after 20+ years in active service, followed up to mid 2008. These men had been rigorously selected for health and fitness, subjected to a healthy lifestyle, and medically well cared for. Consequently the variability of most intervening variables is low. The taller half of both samples had an excess mortality 60+, but nonsmoking cancer related only in the younger cohort. Reported higher cancer risk among tall people may exist only for cohorts born after WWI.

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Presented in Poster Session 6