Short Arms and Legs May Increase Risk

Several studies have shown that early life environment plays an important role in susceptibility to chronic disease later in life. „Body measures such as knee height and arm span are often used as biological indicators of early life deficits, such as a lack of nutrients”, said Tina L. Huang, PhD, who was with Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, when the study started. „Because the development of the brain region most severely affected by Alzheimer‘s disease coincides with the greatest change in limb length, we thought it was possible that men and women with shorter limbs could be at greater risk for developing dementia and Alzheimer‘s disease.”

Researchers from the Cardiovascular Health Cognition Study followed 2,798 people for an average of five years and took knee height and arm span measurements. Most participants were white with an average age of 72. By the end of the study, 480 developed dementia.

Researchers found women with the shortest arm spans were 1.5 times more likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer‘s disease than women with longer arm spans. For every inch longer a woman‘s leg, the risk of dementia and Alzheimer‘s disease was reduced by 16 percent.

In men, only arm span was associated with a lower risk of dementia. With every increased inch in arm span, men had a six-percent decrease in risk of dementia. The associations with such measures in men and women were stronger toward Alzheimer‘s disease compared to other types of dementia. Huang says there is a strong correlation between height and socioeconomic background, and trends are reflected as early as the first two years of life.; Source: American Academy of Neurology