Long legs may not only be a symbol of beauty but also a symbol of good health, according to new research.
Women with short legs are at an increased risk for liver disease, according to a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
Researchers from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom based their findings on the medical records and interviews of 3,600 women aged 60 to 79 from 23 randomly selected British towns.
For the study, standing and seated height were measured to include leg and trunk length, and blood samples were taken to measure levels of four liver enzymes, ALT, GGT, AST and ALP.
The analysis found that the shorter the legs, the higher the levels of the three of the four enzymes — ALT, GGT and ALP. An increased presence of these enzymes indicate the liver may not be functioning properly or may be damaged. ALP also is an indicator of bone disease, such as osteoporosis, according to the study.
"Our interpretation of the results is that childhood exposures, such as good nutrition that influence growth patterns, also influence liver development and levels of liver enzymes in adulthood and/or the propensity for liver damage," the authors wrote.
Greater height may boost the size of the liver, which may decrease enzyme levels, so ensuring that the liver is able to withstand chemical onslaught much more effectively, they added.
The findings held true after adjusting for age, childhood social class, adult alcohol consumption, exercise and smoking.
The results also remained the same after excluding women who already had liver cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease or osteoporosis.