Adult height and cause-specific mortality: a large prospective study of South Korean men

Am J Epidemiol. 2003 Sep 1;158(5):479-85. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwg173.


To examine the relation of adult height with mortality, the authors conducted a cohort study of 386,627 middle-aged South Korean male civil servants from 1992 to 1998. An inverse association between height and all-cause mortality (14,003 deaths) was observed after adjustment for socioeconomic position and major behavioral risk factors. The adjusted relative risk for all-cause mortality associated with a 5-cm increment in height was 0.97 (95% confidence interval: 0.95, 0.98). There was little evidence of associations for coronary heart disease or overall cancer mortality. However, stomach cancer showed a weak inverse association that was attenuated after adjustment. Strong inverse associations with death from stroke, respiratory disease, and external causes were observed. The association with stroke mortality was specific for hemorrhagic stroke. The inverse associations observed between height and mortality suggest a possible effect of childhood environment on health. Variations in the associations by cause of death indicate that specific processes are involved. These data are consistent with those of other studies in suggesting that risk of hemorrhagic stroke is particularly influenced by adversity in early life. The lack of an association between height and coronary heart disease suggests that additional factors are required for short stature to translate into increased coronary heart disease risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Height*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Cause of Death*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Korea / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality*
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk-Taking
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stroke / mortality