Women with short legs have a greater risk of developing heart disease, according to a team of doctors at Bristol University in the UK.
The likelihood of suffering heart disease decreased by 16 percent for every extra 4.3 cm in leg length, the researchers wrote in a study published by Heart journal.
The study of more than 4,000 British women aged between 60 and 79 found a link between adult leg length, an indicator of childhood diet and environment, and the risk of coronary heart disease.
Dr Debbie Lawlor told Reuters, “A tall stature is likely to be a proxy for environmental factors from birth up to puberty, which affect both growth of the bones in the legs and also have a long-term effect on heart disease in the future.”
As babies are born with a long trunk and relatively short legs, growth of the legs is one of the best ways to gauge the positive effect of breast-feeding, high-energy diets and affluence, she said.
Of the women surveyed, almost 700 had heart disease, and their leg lengths ranged from 29.2 inches to 29.6 inches. Women without any symptoms had legs ranging from 29.8 inches to 29.9 inches.
Similar studies have shown taller men also faced less risk of heart disease, she added.
Revision date: June 21, 2011
Last revised: by Sebastian Scheller, MD, ScD