Are There Health Benefits to Being Short?

Being short may not be such a disadvantage after all. As it turns out, it may have certain health benefits.

Do you sometimes feel like you’re at a disadvantage in life because you’re short in height? While the fashion world would have you believe that the ideal height is 5’8 or over, when it comes to health, being shorter may be better. A variety of research studies have shown that people who are short in height may be healthier and more likely to live a long life than their taller counterparts. What are some of the advantages of being short in height?

Several studies have shown that shorter people, particularly those with lower body weights, have greater longevity than taller people. Not only was a correlation between height and longevity shown in these studies, but if you look at cultures where the average height is lower such as the Japanese and Greeks, they appear to have longer life spans on average than taller Americans and Europeans. Of course, diet plays a role here, but the longevity trend seems to transcend diet. A study looking at the height of baseball players and longevity showed a strong inverse correlation with height. This association between height and life span even extends into the animal world where smaller dogs have longer average life spans than bigger, taller ones.

Other studies have shown that the risk of both breast and prostate cancer is lower in people who are short in height. One theory as to why this may be is that people with short height have lower levels of a polypeptide protein hormone known as IGF-1 or insulin-like growth factor. Higher levels of this hormone have been correlated with an increased risk of certain types of cancers, particularly breast and prostate cancers.

Other health advantages of being short in height include a lower risk of back related problems such as herniated discs and general low back strain. A study published in the British Society of Rheumatology journal showed that tall men are more at risk of general back pain than are shorter ones. The correlation for women was less consistent. Shorter people also appear to be less prone to injury in general, according to some studies. Being short in height also may give you physical advantages when it comes to performing some sports such as gymnastics and figure skating.

Although some studies have shown that being short in height increases the risk of heart disease, a later study suggested that leg length may be the more important determinant. The longer your legs relative to the rest of your body, the lower your risk for heart disease. The bottom line? When overall mortality is looked at, shorter people seem to have the advantage.

As you can see when it comes to health and longevity, being short in height may actually be a blessing, despite the fact you can’t model clothes on a runway. It may be a ticket to a longer, healthier life.

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  1. Great information for all the short people in the world. Great research!

  2. Interesting study. I also notice that shorter people age better than taller people.

  3. good information.

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