Publication of Interest – May 2012
Biodemography and Social Biology recently published a new paper on height and the longevity of Sardinian men.
This study supports over 12 previous longevity and over 20 mortality studies that have found that shorter height promotes greater longevity. Sardinia is known as a blue zone because it has a remarkably high percentage of long-lived people.
Sardinians are shorter than people in the rest of Europe and tend to live longer. Within Sardinia, there is a group of 14 municipalities that exhibit higher longevity compared to the rest of the island. In addition, as height declines among these municipalities, longevity increases with the shortest municipaliity, Villagrande Strisaili, having the greatest longevity. Professor Poulain, University of Louvain (Belgium) and Dr. Salaris, University of Cagliari (Italy), led a study to determine whether there was a relationship between height and longevity among almost 500 males born between 1866 and 1915. Thomas Samaras, a San Diego longevity researcher, coauthored the paper. Their research found that shorter men lived about 2 years longer than taller men. The results of the study were published in the journal, Biodemography and Social Biology (4/26/12).
This Sardinian study is consistent with a study conducted in Spain by Dr. Holzenberger. This study tracked 1.3 million men through a 70-year period and found that longevity increased with reduced height. Similar results were found in an Ohio study by Professor Dennis Miller based on about 1700 men and women. Samaras, a longevity researcher, found similar results based on baseball players, California veterans, football players, basketball players and famous people. Professor Krakauer also found that shorter elderly Swedish men and women live longer. A recent review by Professor Bartke appeared in Gerontology which supports these findings as well: DOI: 10.1159/000335166
The researchers of this study noted that women are shorter than men and live longer in virtually all populations. However, Professor Miller found that when he compared men and women of the same height, their longevity was about the same. Contrary to what was expected, Poulain and Salaris found that men live as long as women in Villagrande.
A number of scientists have observed that within a species, the smaller individual tends to live longer than the bigger one. This is illustrated by smaller dogs who live longer than medium and large size dogs. Smaller mice, rats, ponies and monkeys generally live longer as well. The Asian elephant also lives longer than the larger African elephant.
The study also provides a number of biological mechanisms that explain why smaller bodies tend to live longer. These include lower DNA damage, greater cell replacement potential, higher heart pumping efficiency, decreased C-reactive protein and higher sex hormone binding globulin.
Salaris and Poulain reported that height is only one factor in how long anyone will live. It probably constitutes less than 10% of anyone’s longevity profile. Regardless of height, anyone can extend his or her longevity by healthful nutrition, low body weight, exercise, good medical care, a positive and happy spirit, and good social relations. Therefore, tall people have the potential to reach 100 years under the right conditions.
Tom Samaras Publication of Interest
World Nutrition recently published a commentary by Samaras: Human growth, height, size: Reasons to be small.
The commentary described the various reasons that a world population of shorter and lighter people would improve our health and increase our chances of long-term survival. For example, smaller people require less energy, food, water, minerals, and metals. While a few tall individuals are not a problem, the world trend in increasing body size requires huge increases in various resources. In addition, bigger people produce more garbage, pollution, carbon dioxide and global heating. Thus, when environmentalists focus on how many people the earth can support but ignore their average size, they are missing a major portion of the problems related to a growing human population.
Tom sees a diet that focuses on producing long-term health and longevity as the best way to ensure a higher life quality and improves the chances of long-term human survival. Thus, he thinks that promoting increased birth weight, rapid growth and reaching one’s maximum height potential harms the individual and humanity because numerous studies have found that a well-balanced but reduced calorie diet promotes health and longevity. Nutritional scientists need to develop recommendations that will produced healthy infants, children and adults without excessive growth in height and weight.
Tom also points out that increased body size aggravates our economic woes because bigger humans require so many more resources and the diet that produces bigger size also promotes chronic diseases. The world cannot sustain the increasing medical costs related to the present trend towards greater weight and illness. In a previous paper, he found that a 20% increase in height with the same body proportions as we have now, will increase costs by $3 trillion per year in the US alone.
The paper also summarizes the achievements of shorter-than-average people.
Recent Paper Published by Samaras
The Journal of Chinese Clinical Medicine recently published a special report by Samaras: Ramifications of increasing birth weight, accelerated growth and greater height on health, the obesity epidemic and longevity.
This paper evaluates the harmful impact of increasing birth weight, accelerate growth, early sexual maturation and increased height and body weight on our health, chronic disease and longevity. These factors are also examined in terms of their impact on the obesity epidemic and health care costs.
The biological factors related to body size and longevity are summarized. These include telomere reduction, cell replication, DNA damage, heart problems, relative organ size and exposure to increased toxins and bacteria.
New information on the relation of the Great Depression, famine, caloric restriction, plant based diets, animal protein consumption, and longevity is also presented. The physical characteristics of centenarians is also reviewed.
Other Publications of Interest
Thomas T. Samaras, Comentary. Human growth, height, size: Reasons to be small, World Nutrition, 2011, 2,3:108-135. To read the article click here. For translation in 21 languages of this commentary click here.
Thomas T. Samaras, Ramifications of increasing birth weight, accelerated growth, and greater height on health, the obesity epidemic, and longevity, Journal of Chinese Clinical Medicine, 2010, 5(8): 433-449. To read the article click here.
(Note: At lower right below Abstract, press HTML or PDF to see entire paper.)
Killewo J, Heggenhougen HK, Quah SR (eds) Epidemiology and Demography in Public Health, San Diego, Academic Press, 2010. Longevity in Specific Populations, TT Samaras, pp. 415-420.
Tom’s E-mail response to Paajanen TA, et al. Short stature is associated with coronary heart disease. July 20, 2010 can be read here.