Things that are killing us: Why being tall is bad
I'm kind of short. I can't reach the top cabinet in my apartment, and sometimes struggle to even close tall windows. To make me feel better about myself, I've brainstormed some reasons why being tall is bad. From scientific evidence, of course.
For starters, some background: Researchers used to believe that height was pretty strongly correlated with longer life spans. This is because taller people usually had better nutrition and living conditions due to socio-economic status and other reasons, extending their lifespan. But when we look at populations with roughly equal nutrition levels all over the world, we tend to see that shorter humans have on average longer life spans.
Here are my reasons why I think tall people die earlier (ranked from plausible to very dubious):
1. Takes a lot of energy to maintain
If you're tall, you're going to have more cells (on average) than someone who is short, because you have more bone and skin and tissue. It takes energy and resources to create all these cells, which can exhaust your body faster. Or at least goes one hypothesis for why short people live longer.
Side note: This also means that short people are more eco-friendly, because they just consume less resources, like food and clothes, from the planet.
2. Higher likelihood of cancer and other diseases
Because tall people have more cells, there's just a higher chance for any one of those cells to become cancerous. One study shows that taller postmenopausal women are at higher risk for various types of cancer such as thyroid, kidney, breast, melanoma, and all of them combined. Other studies corroborate that the risks of many different cancers are increased for taller people in general.
Taller people also seem to suffer more from aortic aneurysms, when there is a bulge in the aorta that may burst and leak blood, and form blood clots. A hypothesis is that tall people simply have longer arteries and veins, which increases the likelihood of such problems occurring. They also tend to be at risk for atrial fibrillation, which are irregular heart palpitations.
3. Exposed to more UV radiation
As you get higher in altitude, you also get exposed to more sunlight. So tall people probably get exposed to more UV radiation, which of course means higher chance of skin cancer and extra crispy skin. (Side note: But this also comes with increased exposure to Vitamin D, an important vitamin. Vitamin D might possibly protect against cancer as well, though studies and trials show mixed evidence.)
4. Get less oxygen
As you get higher into the atmosphere, the density of oxygen in the air decreases. (If you're wondering why, it's because the lower altitude you go, the more air there is above you, which weighs down the air that is at your altitude. This compresses the air, meaning more oxygen for a given volume. Vice versa for higher altitudes.) Tall people are higher in the atmosphere than short people, so naturally they would breathe less oxygen, right? And the highest part is their brain too. Which probably means that they don't get as much oxygen to their brain. Ha, idiots. (Don't tell me that's not how it works, I don't care.)
So in summary, while I'm short, at least I'll have a long life. Take that, tall people.
In all seriousness, though, while shorter people on average do seem to have slightly longer lifespans, the evidence is a bit mixed and varies by circumstances. There's benefits to be found at all heights, and so we should embrace diversity and bodies of all shapes and sizes!