Adult height and the risk of mortality in South Korean women

Am J Epidemiol. 2008 Sep 1;168(5):497-505. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwn187. Epub 2008 Jul 25.


To evaluate the association between adult height as a surrogate marker of childhood circumstances and the risk of mortality, 344,519 South Korean women aged 40-64 years categorized into six height groups were prospectively followed for mortality between 1994 and 2004. In Cox proportional hazards regression with adjustment for behavioral and biologic risk factors, there was an inverse association between height and total mortality; mortality risk decreased 7% for each 5-cm increment in height. The association did not materially change after adjustment for behavioral factors and adulthood socioeconomic factors or after full adjustment for all available covariates. When height-associated risks of death from specific causes were evaluated in a fully adjusted analysis, a 5-cm increment in height was associated with lower risks of death from respiratory diseases, stroke, diabetes mellitus, and external causes (hazard ratios were 0.84 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.74, 0.96), 0.84 (95% CI: 0.80, 0.88), 0.87 (95% CI: 0.80, 0.96), and 0.88 (95% CI: 0.83, 0.94), respectively) and with a higher risk of death from cancer (hazard ratio = 1.05, 95% CI: 1.02, 1.09). Given that adult height reflects early-life conditions, the independent associations between height and mortality from all causes and specific causes support the view that early-life circumstances significantly influence health outcomes in adulthood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidents / mortality
  • Adult
  • Body Height*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Cohort Studies
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Diabetes Mellitus / mortality
  • Digestive System Diseases / mortality
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Korea / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality*
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / mortality
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stroke / mortality
  • Women's Health*