Scientists stumble on genes that make you tall or short

October 1st, 2010 - 4:48 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Oct 1 (IANS) Scientists have stumbled on genes which help explain why some people tower over others even as some struggle to attain five feet.

While obesity is caused by a mix of genetic and environmental factors, about 80 percent of variation in human height is determined by genes.

Now researchers have identified hundreds of mutations that account for about 10 percent of the inherited difference in height among people, reports the Daily Mail.

Study leader Professor Joel Hirschhorn of the Harvard Medical School in the US said: “Height clearly has a lot to do with genetics - shorter parents tend to have shorter children, and taller parents tend to have taller children.”

“This paper is the biggest step forward to date in understanding which of the genetic variants that differ between people account for our differences in height.”

The GIANT (Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Traits) Consortium pooled millions of pieces of genetic data from more than 180,000 individuals in the US, Canada, Europe and Australia.

They found hundreds of variants associated with height located in at least 180 different spots in the human genome.

These mutations cluster consistently around genes from at least six different biological pathways - many near those already known to be involved in skeletal growth syndromes, according to the journal Nature.

Co-researcher Professor Timothy Frayling of the Exeter University in Britain said: “We know about 80 percent of our height is down to our genes and the rest is environmental such as nutrition and childhood infections which have reduced in the last hundred years - meaning we have all got taller.”

“We hope our findings will help shed light on some developmental problems and some of the genes we have found also overlap with increased risks of cancer owing to cell division.”

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