Background Although several studies have evaluated the relationship between adult height and mortality, their results have not been entirely consistent. Little is known about components of adult height in relation to mortality, particularly in developing countries.
Methods We examined the association of adult height and its components (leg and trunk length) with mortality using data from 74 869 Chinese women and 61 333 men in the Shanghai Women's (1996–2008) and Men's (2002–2008) Health Studies. Anthropometric measurements, including standing and sitting height and weight, were taken at baseline by trained interviewers according to a standard protocol. Deaths were ascertained by biennial home visits and linkage with the vital statistics registry. Cox regression models were used to evaluate the associations.
Results Neither height nor its components were associated with all-cause mortality. Height and, less consistently, its components were positively associated with cancer mortality, but inversely associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality. Hazard ratios (HRs) [95% confidence intervals (CIs)] for cancer mortality per 1-SD increment in height, trunk and leg length were 1.06 (1.01–1.12), 1.07 (1.01–1.12) and 1.03 (0.98–1.08), respectively, in women, and 1.13 (1.05–1.22), 1.09 (1.00–1.19) and 1.10 (1.03–1.16), respectively, in men. The corresponding HRs for CVD mortality were 0.89 (0.84–0.95), 0.93 (0.87–0.99) and 0.91 (0.86–0.98) in women, and 0.93 (0.86–1.02), 0.89 (0.81–0.98) and 0.99 (0.92–1.06) in men.
Conclusions Our results suggest that different mechanisms may be involved in linking height and its components with cancer and CVD mortality.