A lot of people suffer from illnesses which they aren't even aware of. Tall people are no different. But then they are illnesses that are mainly (or exclusively) related to your height. That's why I thought a dedicated Health Section might be helpful. You may be as healthy as a spring chicken (I sincerely hope you are) but if you recognise symptoms like the ones described below please see your doctor asap:
Acromegaly is a a hormonal disorder that most commonly occurs in middle-aged men and women. The prevalence of acromegaly is approximately 4,676 cases per million population, and the incidence is 116.9 new cases per million per year. The name "acromegaly" comes from the Greek words for "extremities" (acro) and "great" (megaly), because one of the most common symptoms of this condition is abnormal growth of the hands and feet.
Thanks for getting back to me so quickly! One of the things that I would add to your definition is that acromegaly is actually caused by a benign (non-cancerous) tumor in the pituitary gland. Acromegaly can actually be treated in a couple of ways, including surgically removing the tumor or via medications that are specifically designed to treat the disease.
Danielle who suffers from acromegaly writes: A couple of site that I've found to be really great resources are:
It seems that the Marfan Syndrome is a relatively common illness as far as tall people are concerned. Because of the fact that I am neither tall nor a woman I rely on you ladies to take part and add information to this page. Remember that the Website for Tall Women is supposed to be the Number One Internet resource for tall women and I'll do my best to reach that goal. Any assistance is gladly accepted :-)
More Marfan related Links:
Megan from the UK wrote in to tell me that famous English model Erin O'Connor who is 6'1" also suffers from Marfan Syndrome. Thanks for the info, Megan!
The website "Tall Girls Inc. Australia" (run by Janet Cregan-Wood) was dedicated to women who, as prepubertal and adolescent girls, were exposed to synthetic estrogens (i.e. DES - di-ethyl-stilboestrol) to inhibit their growth. Tall Girls Inc. was an organisation that has been formed to support these women and their families, and to promote investigation of this treatment and its outcomes. Sadly their website has disappeared and I'm not sure if there's a replacement. If you know something please get in touch.
I also recommend the article "Estrogen Given to Pre-Teen Girls to Inhibit Growth" and the book "Normal at Any Cost" by Susan Cohen and Christine Cosgrove. (Thanks to 6'3" Jheri for the hint!)
The Website of the Human Growth Foundation is an essential addition to this section. They provide an article about "normal" and "abnormal" growth scenarios as well as a piece on the Patterns of Growth. If you want to read even more about the Human Growth Hormone visit the Magic Foundation website.
Backache certainly isn't a problem that is exclusive to tall people but, from what I have gathered, they are more likely to suffer from intensive pain in the back area than their shorter counterparts.
Shelly brought the "Osgood-Schlatter Disease" to my attention recently. It occurs when the growth platelets at the end of the tibia are overstimulated and form a lump of extra bone beneath the main tendon in the knee. This makes kneeling extremely difficult and sports can be painful (the extra bone rubs against the tendon during physical activity, causing micro-tears in the tissue which result in inflamation and pain). Here's another link regarding the illness.
Amy wrote to me (December 9th 2002): "I just wanted to share some information about Osgood Schlatter, which my 6'2" sister suffered from. Recently our chiropractor informed my sister that Osgood Schlatter may have been prevented/corrected by chiropractic treatment. The extra bone forms because the tibia grows so fast that the tendons lose their grip on the bone and the body grows new bone to try to reconnect it. A chiropractor knows how to work the tendon to help reattach itself to the bone, if successful, the tendon will grip the bone and the body doesn't need to develop new bone. Please share this information! I know how terrible my sister feels knowing now that there might have been something she could have done about this condition, but now as an adult she has to live with knee problems. It may be a treatment worth looking into."
Comment from a lady with a science background (January 17th 2003): "One thing you may want to correct (I am a copy writer/editor with a science background) On the health page under Osgood Schlatter, very near the beginning, it's not "growth platelets" of the tibia, it should be "growth plates." :)
Also, it's not really an illness, but this is an interesting health tidbit for tall women. After becoming pregnant with fraternal twins, I learned that big tall women have a higher frequency of twinning. Not of identicals, since that is due to the first division of the zygote. The cells separate creating two individuals. That can happen with equal frequency in any woman. But fraternal twins come from two separate eggs. Releasing two eggs in a single ovulatory cycle is dependant on levels of a certain hormone (I forget what it is). That is why fraternal twins "run" in families, it is hereditary to have higher levels of the hormone. But big, tall women tend to have higher levels, thus higher frequency of twins!"
Elizabeth commented as follows:
Regarding The Osgood-Schlatter disease: As per the Mayo-Clinic Staff, Osgood-Schlatter is not related to greater height. It occurs more often in athletic kids than in non-athletes, affecting as many as one in five adolescent athletes. The condition develops most often in boys ages 13 to 14 and girls ages 10 to 11. It is slightly more common in boys. Refer to www.mayoclinic.com.
I just received an email from Kirsten who states
"It is a degenerative condition resulting from lack of proper bone structure & mass. While it is a dibilitating that can affect anyone (especially women), I've seen it really affect a lot of tall people. My 6'4" father was told a cancerous tumour was disintegrating a vertebrae in the middle of his back earlier this year. Doctors have determined the vertebrae was earlier damaged due to osteoporosis. Because he is so tall, the pressure from the weight of his upper body further pulverized the bone. Though the cancer has been treated successfully, now he can still barely sit for an hour or two without pain because of the bone, and the bone will likely never heal to normal again. If for no other reason than this... remember to eat a balanced diet including foods high in calcium like milk, or take a calcium supplement if you're lactose intolerant.
Always maintain good posture also, for good posture can result in naturally (*slightly) trimmer tummies, lees back pain, and keep you from developing the characteristic hunch in older women, but especially those who are tall."
Thanks for that input, Kirsten!
Advice from a biologist
As for osteoporosis: if you need calcium and are lactose intolerant, besides industrial supplements (there are many people who have a side-effects when using them) the best ones are fermented milk products: sour milk, cheese (especially fresh), yoghurt, kefir and such because they contain calcium and phosphorus in physiological ratio. Also, I recomend use of vitamin D or their precursors (especially in food rich in them: fish, fish oil, yeast...) because organism needs vitamin D to absorb calcium and phosphorus properly. Though, as for milk products, there is some caution needed: some people are allegic on casein, a major protein component of milk and its products, so they should avoid them.
Also, for a females who menstruate profusely, eat food with iron: spinach, liver etc along vith lots of vitamin C (fruits, vegetables), because without vitamin C you cannot get enough of iron, and will become anemic, as well as can get a scurvy.
Tall women have big organisms, so they need more food than avarage women. Be proactive, and find out what is optimal for you.
And be careful. Bones of tall people break more likely than of small ones, because they are much longer, but not much thicker. Also, if you trip and fall, or someone causes you to fall, your injuries can get more serious, especially for upper body parts, because of fall from greater hight and therefore harder impact when you hit the ground. So, be carefull for injuries of head, arms, ribs and upper spine, especially neck.
So, Your Highnesses, stay well and good
I have done a bit of googling and came up with the website of the National Osteoporosis Foundation (USA). There is also the National Institutes of Health Website re. Osteoporosis, the Osteoporosis Society of Canada and, for my European visitors, the National Osteoporosis Society Website from the UK. For even more info check the Google Directory entries for Osteorporosis.
Individuals with EDS have a defect in their connective tissue, the tissue that provides support to many body parts such as the skin, muscles and ligaments. The fragile skin and unstable joints found in EDS are the result of faulty collagen. Collagen is a protein, which acts as a "glue" in the body, adding strength and elasticity to connective tissue. Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) is a heterogeneous group of heritable connective tissue disorders, characterized by articular (joint) hypermobility, skin extensibility and tissue fragility. There are six major types of EDS. The different types of EDS are classified according to their manifestations of signs and symptoms. Each type of EDS is a distinct disorder that "runs true" in a family. This means that an individual with Vascular Type EDS will not have a child with Classical Type EDS.
Susanne wrote: "Please include details of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, as Doctors tend to forget about it, especially if they are short. An endocrinologist told us we have it after viewing an xray of my daughters hand (while assisting us with her height)."
I have found the following websites of interest: Ehlers Danlos National Foundation and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Support Group. I also suggest to check out the Google Directory entries for Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.
Since you are interested in avoiding breast cancer I'll send you some links I dug up for someone who had breast cancer. (I regularly "spam" people with info like this. I feel so blessed to know stuff like this that I just have to share)
First: Bras cause breast cancer because they shut off the flow of blood to breast: http://www.all-natural.com/bras.html
Women who wore their bras 24 hours per day had a 3 out of 4 chance of developing breast cancer. Women who wore bras more than 12 hour per day but not to bed had a 1 out of 7 risk. Women who wore their bras less than 12 hours per day had a 1 out of 152 risk. Women who wore bras rarely or never had a 1 out of 168 chance of getting breast cancer. The overall difference between 24 hour wearing and not at all was a 125-fold difference.
Second: Milk has IGF-1, a hormone produced in the liver of the mother cow, which turns a little calf into a big cows in a few months, but when this hormone reaches breast and prostate cancer cells it causes them to grow rapidly too. (Despite my telling my mother and husband this, I can't get them to stop drinking milk arggg!)
On January 23, 1998 researchers at the Harvard Medical School released a major study providing conclusive evidence that IGF-1 is a potent risk factor for prostate cancer.
Should you be concerned? Yes, you certainly should, particularly if you drink milk produced in the United States.
This woman cured her breast cancer by eating raw food (it's a very inspirational story too):
You can participate here: