Being taller at a young age may lower dementia risk

In a new study, researchers found that men who are taller in young adulthood, as an indicator of early-life circumstances, may have a lower risk of dementia in old age.

The research was conducted by a team at the University of Copenhagen, in Denmark.

Finding ways to identify individuals at risk of dementia is essential. It can help people take preventive measures or plan for their future care.

The study indicates that young adult height might be one potential risk factor to consider.

Previous studies have suggested that height may be a risk factor for dementia, but much of this research was not able to take into account genetic, environmental, or other early-life factors that may be linked to both height and dementia.

In the study, the team wanted to see if body height in young men is associated with a diagnosis of dementia.

To do this, they analyzed data on 666,333 Danish men born between 1939 and 1959, including 70,608 brothers and 7,388 twins, from Danish national registries.

They found a total of 10,599 men who developed dementia later in life.

Their adjusted analysis of this group showed that there was about a 10% reduction in the risk of developing dementia for about every 6cm of height in individuals above the average height.

When the team took into account the potential role of intelligence or education, the unadjusted relationship between height and dementia risk was only slightly reduced.

They found that the link between height and dementia also existed when they looked at brothers with different heights.

This suggests that genetics and family characteristics alone do not explain why shorter men had a greater dementia risk.

This was also true when they studied data concerning twins, although the results for this group were less certain.

Together, the results point to an association between taller body height in young men and a lower risk of dementia diagnosis later in life, which persists even when adjusted for educational level and intelligence test scores.

The study suggests the association may have common roots in early-life environmental exposures that are not related to family factors shared by brothers.

The lead author of the study is Terese Sara Høj Jørgensen, Assistant Professor at the Section of Social Medicine.

The study is published in eLife.

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