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Height Directly Linked to Risk of Peripheral Insensate Neuropathy

Tall people, regardless of whether they have diabetes or not, are at increased risk for peripheral insensate neuropathy. The association with height "largely accounts for the difference in peripheral insensate neuropathy prevalence between men and women," lead author Dr. Yiling J. Cheng and colleagues, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, write.
The findings are based on an analysis of data for 5229 subjects, 40 years of age or older, who participated in the 1999-2002 US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Peripheral insensate neuropathy was defined as one or more insensate areas on the foot during monofilament stimulation testing.

Peripheral insensate neuropathy was noted in 21.2% of subjects with diabetes, nearly double the 11.5% rate seen in nondiabetics, the authors state. Men were 70% more likely to have peripheral insensate neuropathy than were women, but the association fell short of statistical significance after adjusting for height.

An apparent threshold effect was noted with a sharp increase in peripheral insensate neuropathy prevalence as height exceeded 175.5 cm, the report indicates. Adults above this height were 2.3-times more likely to have peripheral insensate neuropathy than their shorter peers.

"Height may help healthcare providers identify persons who require more intensive neuropathic screening because of their higher risk for peripheral insensate neuropathy," the investigators conclude.
Am J Epidemiol 2006;164:873-880.

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