– Pumping Irony –
Danish researchers suggest that my diminutive stature as a youth makes it more likely I’ll develop dementia. I think they may be short-sighted.
I come from a very long line of short people. Mom barely reached 5 feet, Dad was almost as wide as he was tall, and it was no surprise to learn that one of my uncles was known as “Teeny.” The story goes that my first-grade teacher gave me a telephone book to sit on so I could get a better view of the blackboard. I don’t actually remember that, but I’ve no reason to doubt it. I was a little kid and never really sprouted the way most of my classmates did by the time we escaped high school.
My diminutive stature didn’t prevent me from playing all manner of sports, but it did prove to be an obstacle in certain situations. I’m convinced, for example, that the people at the DMV who flunked me the first three times I took my driver’s test did so chiefly because they happened to notice that my feet could barely reach the pedals of my dad’s Ford Fairlane. I finally passed muster driving my brother’s 1959 VW bug, which lacked a fully functioning reverse gear but probably struck the evaluator as a more appropriate vehicle for the runt behind the wheel.
Fifty years later, I seldom experience much difficulty operating an automobile or navigating more or less smoothly in a world full of people looking down at me. At a certain point in life, size actually doesn’t matter. Which is partly why the results of a Danish study published last week in the journal eLife caught my attention. Researchers at the University of Copenhagen suggest that I’m more likely than the taller peers of my youth to develop dementia.
“We wanted to see if body height in young men is associated with diagnosis of dementia, while exploring whether intelligence test scores, educational level, and underlying environmental and genetic factors shared by brothers explain the relationship,” lead study author Terese Sara Høj Jørgensen, MPH, explains in a statement.
Analyzing data on more than 666,000 Danish men born between 1939 and 1959, Jørgensen and her team found that 10,599 of them had developed dementia later in life. When they adjusted for various factors, they found that every 6 centimeters (2.4 inches) above average height reduced by about l0 percent the risk of developing the disease. Theoretically, at least, that means I’m about 20 percent more…