Tall order

 作者:詹樽     |      日期:2019-03-07 01:18:00
By Melanie Cooper Tall people have always lived longer than shorter ones, according to a study of skeletons dating back to the 9th Century. A team from the University of Bristol estimated height from the length of the arm and leg bones of 490 people buried in north-east England between the 9th Century and 1850. Teeth and skulls were used to assess their age. It is known that tall people today tend to live longer – their height reflects good diet and freedom from disease. But living conditions over the last millennium have varied enormously and it was not certain that the same rule would apply. The study also found that, on average, women died six years earlier than men. The cause of death or the socioeconomic status of the people who were buried at St Peter’s Church in Barton on Humber is not known. “In a study such as this, you can’t take account of everything,” says David Gunnell who led the research group. “We looked at the fact of death, not the cause of death.” About 3000 skeletons were dug up at the church site, but only 490 of these were used. The excluded remains were from children and adolescents – who were too young to have fully grown bones – or from adults with insufficient remains to identify their sex, age at death or bone length. Sex was determined from the structure of the skull and pelvis – 65 per cent of the remains were male. Teeth, skulls and pelvic bones were examined to determine approximate age at death. The researchers divided their results into people who died between 20 and 30 years and people who died before they were 45. Above 45, ageing becomes too unreliable. They found people with longer bones were consistently at less risk of dying before they were 30. “This research enables us to test the relationship between height and age at death over a very long period of time,” says Bernard Harris, an historian from the University of Southampton. “It may have important implications for our understanding of the relationship between height and mortality in the coming years.” More at: Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health (vol 55,