Genes that make you taller could protect from heart disease, study by US govt agency finds

New Delhi: The genetic code that make humans taller could protect you from cardiovascular disease, but increase the risk for nerve-related diseases, according to a study of genetic and medical data of over 280,000 individuals. 

Conducted by a team from the US Department of Veteran Affairs’ Million Veteran Program (MVP), the study was published in the journal PLOS Genetics last week.

The large genetic study reportedly reveals a links between height and lower risk of coronary heart disease, and a link between height and higher risk of circulatory disorders and peripheral neuropathy, which is damage to nerves outside the brain and spinal cord, particularly in the limbs.

The study also suggested that height is indicative of the risk of asthma and non-specific nerve disorders among women, but not among men.

Dr Sridharan Raghavan of the VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System, who led the study, said the findings are a “significant contribution to understanding how height is related to clinical conditions from an epidemiologic perspective”.

More research is needed before the findings might lead to changes in clinical care, Raghavan added.

While height is not usually considered a risk factor for diseases, past research has hinted at how a person’s height can impact the likelihood of them experiencing a number of health conditions. So far, this link has been seen as coincidence since there is no concrete evidence to establish an underlying biological basis for it.

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Link between height and risk of disease

Your height is largely determined by the genes you inherit from your parents, but factors such as nutrition and socioeconomic status also play a part in determining a person’s height. This is what makes it even more difficult to determine a connection between height and risk of disease.

To explore this connection, researchers looked at genetic and medical data from more than 2,80,000 individuals enrolled in the Million Veteran Program — a US-based research initiative to learn how genes, lifestyle, and military exposures affect health and illness.

Researchers compared the data with a list of 3,290 genetic variants associated with height from a recent genome analysis and found that risk levels of 127 different medical conditions can be linked to genes that increase height.

The team found that taller participants were at a lower risk of cardiovascular problems. Findings of the study also revealed that the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and coronary heart disease was lower among taller participants of the study.

However, the risk of atrial fibrillation — or irregular heartbeats — was higher among taller participants. 

The risk of the majority of non-cardiovascular conditions such as peripheral neuropathy and circulatory disorders involving the veins was also found to be higher among taller participants, the study says.

Prior studies have linked height with slower nerve conduction and nerve problems. The study claims to confirm this link using genetic tools to suggest a higher risk of nerve-related diseases among taller participants.

Conditions such as cellulitis, skin abscesses, chronic leg ulcers, and osteomyelitis were also found to be linked to height, in addition to circulatory conditions such as varicose veins and thrombosis, which is a condition entailing blood clots in veins, the study says.

(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)

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Disclaimer: This report is automatically generated from worldwide news services. NTN is not responsible for its content and does not moderate it.

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