"We split people into two groups - those that were 5-foot-2 and shorter, and 5-4 and taller," Dr. Bradley Willcox, one of the investigators for the study and a Professor in the University of Hawaii (UH) John A. Burns School of Medicine's Department of Geriatric Medicine said.
"The folks that were 5-2 and shorter lived the longest. The range was seen all the way across from being 5-foot tall to 6-foot tall. The taller you got, the shorter you lived," he said.
Researchers at the Kuakini Medical Center, the UH John A. Burns School of Medicine and U.S. Veterans Affairs worked on the study.
The researchers showed that shorter men were more likely to have a protective form of the longevity gene, FOXO3, leading to smaller body size during early development and a longer lifespan. Shorter men were also more likely to have lower blood insulin levels and less cancer.
"This study shows for the first time, that body size is linked to this gene," Dr. Willcox said.
The study is published in PLOS ONE, a peer-reviewed medical journal.