In a new study from the University of Copenhagen, researchers found being taller in young adulthood is associated with a lower risk of developing dementia in men, even when accounting for education, intelligence, and family genetics.
Finding ways to identify individuals at risk of dementia could help people take preventive measures or plan for their future care.
The finding 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 analyzed data on 666,333 Danish men born between 1939 and 1959, including 70,608 brothers and 7,388 twins.
These men underwent examinations at the conscript board between 1957 and 1984 and then were in Danish national registries until 2016. From the data, the researchers identified 10,599 men who developed dementia later in life.
Over the years, the average height has changed. The team found that there was about a 10% reduction in the risk of developing dementia for about every 6 cm (about 2.4 inches) of stature in individuals above the average height.
The researchers also found that the link between height and dementia risk existed in brothers of different heights. The same was true of twins, although the results for this group were less certain.
The findings suggest that genetics and family traits alone can’t explain why shorter men are at greater risk of dementia than taller ones. Most likely, environmental factors also play a role.
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The study is published in eLife. One author of the study is Terese Sara Høj Jørgensen.
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