Male Tallness Predicts Higher Cancer Mortality, without Apparent Antiselection for Tallness

Ulrich O. Mueller, University of Marburg
Allan Mazur, Syracuse University
Cedric Noessler, Philipps-Universit├Ąt Marburg
Andrea Werdecker, Philipps-Universit├Ąt Marburg

Taller men have higher resource-holding-power (RHP) and reproductive sucess (RS). Growing up in favourable conditions makes people growing taller. Persistent directional selection for male tallness should result. Tallness comes with higher cancer mortality, perhaps counterbalancing selection. Since higher SES predicts lower cancer risk, we study a population with equal SES and little impact of tallness on individual RHP - as is the case in the US Army officer corps. We observe reproduction and survival of West Point 1949 (48% alive), 1950 (52%), 1951 (51%) graduates by 2011, cancer mortality by 2008, by rank and tallness. As young adults men were rigorously selected for health and fitness, afterward subjected to healthy lifestyle, and medically well cared for. Thus, most intervening variables vary little. Survival is lower for taller men because of higher cancer mortality, however taller men have more children irrespective of cancer risk. Thus, no antiselection of tallness was found.

Presented in Session 116: Experimental Studies of Human Mortality