Written by Chuck Barber
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Topics: Doctors, Iceland

Friday, 14 May 2004

Doctors at Iceland's Institute of Height in Sklardsdotter released the results of a study which indicates that tall men tend to die much younger than shorter men. Though demonstrated anecdotally to the satisfaction of most specialists, this is the first double blind, scientifically acceptable study to examine the effects of height on longevity.

Not surprisingly the results of the study parallel the long held belief that tall men die younger. A trip to any retirement or nursing home will suggest that this is the case. The average height in European care facilities is considerably less than the average height of either men or women in the general population. Women in nursing homes average 4 inches shorter than the population at large, while men average 3.5 inches shorter.

However, this sort of anecdotal study was not good enough for Dr. Flang Gundonson of the Institute of Height. He set out with assistance from other doctors at the Institute to look at height and death records of every person who died over the age of 65 in Europe for the past twenty five years. This unbelievably massive search could not have been done without computers as Dr. Gundonson acknowledges. "Manually we could not have counted as fast as people died, however, with the computer we were able to do the study in a matter of a few weeks." The flaw in the study is that the deceased were measured after death, however, as Dr. Gundonson points out, "the body should lengthen at first after death. Now, if they waited a week to measure, the bodies would probably have begun to warp and shrivel. So, we are at the mercy of morgue attendants throughout Europe."

Never-the-less the results are fascinating and deeply disturbing for taller men.

The perfect height it appears is 5-10. Those shorter than that are as Dr. Gundonson notes "long lived, but to what point, really?" Men from 5-11 to 6-1 lose about three years of life per inch of height. However, the real danger comes in men at or over 6-2. "Yes, if you are that tall, you might as well buy your coffin at 18, for you will soon need it. It really does not matter whether you are 6-2 or 7-2. You will be dead before you are 60."

Though some men over that height do live longer, most do not. "This is not an average of any sort with as many long lived men over 6-2 as under it. No, this is a Reynolds lost cost benefit analysis, and according to this, at 6-2 you're doomed."

What advice did Dr. Gundonson have for tall men? "Spend your money now, drink a lot, take drugs, ignore the risks of venereal disease, take up smoking and drive fast. You have no reason not to."

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The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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