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Height linked to dementia risk

People who are shorter than average height have an increased risk of dying with dementia, a study has found.

Researchers examined several health studies of the general population, which recorded health information such as blood pressure, height, weight and risk factors for ill health.

The scientists say while that being short does not cause dementia a person’s height could increase understanding of possible risk factors for dementia.

For men the average height recorded was 174.4 cm while for women it was 161.0 cm.

In these analyses in which we grouped together 18 studies, we found that shorter adult height was associated with an increased risk of subsequent dementia death. We looked at a variety of health data, including how long people survived and how they died. The association between height and dementia death remained when we took into account early life or adult socio-economic status and other relevant factors, including obesity, smoking, cardiovascular disease risk factors, and longstanding illness.

Dr Tom Russof the University's Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Research Centre

Researchers also found that the link between height and dementia death was stronger in men than women.

Scientists add that the possibility that early life factors could relate to dementia risk needs to be further examined.

Dementia is a major global health problem and an estimated 36 million people worldwide have the condition.

The study is published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.