Tallness comes with higher mortality in two cohorts of US Army Officers

Ulrich Mueller, University of Marburg
Allan Mazur, Syracuse University

In all societies studied so far, 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, a higher upward mobility for tall people in many social settings, fewer health hazards and better medical care for high social status people, together with cohort effects - are highly intercorrelated. Here we study a special population, rigorously selected for health as young adults, thereafter subjected to a healthy lifestyle regime for many years, and medically very well taken care of ever since: graduates of the classes of 1925 and of 1950 of the US Military Academy at West Point, retired not disabled after at least 20 years in active service. In these samples, consequently, the variability of most of these intervening variables is very low.

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Presented in Session 70: Bio-demography and longevity