A person’s height affects not only their clothing size but also important facts about their health according to a recent study authored by University at Albany School of Public Health associate professor, Dr. Mark Kuniholm. Prior studies of height conducted in individuals of European descent have shown that shorter height is associated with higher risk of cardiovascular disease. In contrast, shorter height may be protective against certain types of cancers.
In the study, the researchers considered whether height predicts cardiovascular disease risk factors such as high cholesterol levels in United States Hispanics. Because Hispanics may differ from individuals of European descent in many ways including in diet and culture, the researchers used a special genetic analysis method called a polygenic risk score to account for these differences in our study. The research found that for Hispanic women – but not for Hispanic men – shorter height was associated with higher total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels. Height is not something that adults can change, but understanding health risks may empower people and communities – especially historically understudied communities such as Hispanics – to make positive decisions about their health and talk to a doctor if they have concerns about their risk for cardiovascular disease.