Shorter people may live longer than their taller friends and it’s all down to their DNA, research has claimed.
Scientists have been studying changes to DNA when animals grow. A study by the Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine at the University of Glasgow and the Centre of Biodiversity Dynamics at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology looked at telomeres, which are protective DNA structures all animals have at the end of their chromosomes.
The academics examined different sizes of house sparrows and found the larger birds had shorter telomeres which meant the cells in their body did not work as well as those in their smaller feathered friends.
DNA becomes damaged as animals grow
Professor of zoology Pat Monaghan who supervised the study believes the difference in telomere length may be due to DNA becoming damaged as people and animals grow.
She said: “Growing a bigger body means that cells have to divide more. As a result, telomeres become eroded faster and cells and tissues function less well as a result.
“Being big can have advantages, of course, but this study shows that it can also have costs.”
Although the study concerned bird, scientists believe this could also apply to humans too suggesting very tall people may be at a disadvantage when it comes to their long-term health.
Our DNA carries a huge amount of information and genetic instructions. It is possible to tell a lot about a person from their DNA from the paternity of a child and a person’s genetic heritage to how likely they are to develop a particular disease.
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