Being tall may have its shortcomings.
For researchers have found that greater height comes with increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.
A study of 2.7million people concluded taller men and women are far more likely to develop blood clots in their veins – a leading cause of heart problems.
The study, which also compared siblings to rule out genetic factors, found a direct correlation between height and risk of venous thromboembolism.
The taller someone is, the greater their risk.
The Swedish researchers examined two huge datasets – one for women and one for men – who were tracked for between 30 and 43 years.
Among 1.6million men, those who were shorter than 5’3′ were 65 per cent less likely to develop a venous blood clot than those who were taller than 6’2′.
Similar findings emerged for women, according to the paper published in the medical journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics Report.
The researchers examined health record of 1.1million women tracked from the time of their first pregnancy – a point at which women are particularly at risk of clots.
They found women who were shorter than 5’1′ were 69 per cent less likely to develop a clot than those who measured 6 feet or taller.
Lead researcher Dr Bengt Zöller, associate professor at Lund University in Sweden, suspects the cause may be simple.
‘It could just be that because taller individuals have longer leg veins there is more surface area where problems can occur,’ he said.
‘There is also more gravitational pressure in leg veins of taller persons that can increase the risk of blood flow slowing or temporarily stopping.’
THE OTHER DANGERS OF BEING TALL
Tall and overweight men are in greater danger of aggressive prostate cancer.
A six foot tall man has a 21 per cent higher risk of high-grade prostate cancer than one who is five feet and eight inches.
Middle-aged spread of around four inches around the waist can raise the risk by another 13 per cent, an Oxford University study found.
Tall men have higher levels of growth hormones which cause them to shoot upwards as children, but are linked to prostate cancer in adulthood.
Men who are overweight, particularly those putting on weight around their middle, are thought to alter their testosterone levels, which may also lead to cancer. Both groups of larger men are also at increased risk of dying from prostate cancer.
In order to rule out genetic factors, Dr Zöller’s team compared the health records of pairs of siblings.
For pairs of brothers, a 10cm (three inch) height gap was linked to a 31 per cent difference in blood clot risk.
And for pairs of sisters the same height difference was linked to a 35 per cent difference.
Blood clots in the veins – including deep vein thrombosis – are the third biggest cause of heart attacks and strokes.
More than 60,000 people in Britain develop such a clot each year, which in severe cases can even require the amputation of a leg.
In some cases parts of the clot breaks off and get stuck in the lung, triggering a potentially fatal pulmonary embolism.
Clots often occurs when people sit inactive for several hours – such as on a long-haul flight or when lying in a hospital bed.
Pregnant women are also at risk, as are women who take the contraceptive pill.
Dr Zöller said: ‘Height is not something we can do anything about.
‘However, the height in the population has increased, and continues increasing, which could be contributing to the fact that the incidence of thrombosis has increased.
‘I think we should start to include height in risk assessment just as overweight, although formal studies are needed to determine exactly how height interacts with inherited blood disorders and other conditions.’