Does the square-cubed law lead to possible health detriments for taller people?

I'm not sure what the optimum height is for humans (e.g. due to their cross-sectional bone density constraints), but given the square-cubed law at some greater height wouldn't a human begin to experience health detriments, whether small or large? For example, lets say that the optimum height is 175cm for a male (I don't know what the actual optimum height), wouldn't each marginal increase in height add excessive pressures to the body?

Or is there any sort of allometric plasticity that humans possess to take into account the physical pressures of being taller, making a range of height being optimal?

Any thoughts, opinions, papers on this would be much appreciated.

  • Can you please clarify why the question is phrased as specific to humans? Would you expect that smaller is always better in all species? – Remi.b Jun 18 at 2:43
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    Well it can be applied to any species, but I phrased it specifically to humans because I was curious of any evidence for health implications in the biomedical field. I should have given moire detail to my question, I'm sorry! I wouldn't expect that smaller is always better in all species, since it would be costly for a species to have a cross-sectional bone density higher than it needs to support its small relative mass determined by its size. I don't know what the optimum height would be to match bone density in humans, but I was hoping that the 150/180cm example got across the question. – ndyson0 Jun 18 at 3:11
  • here is a paper linking body size and longevity, but it is not something that can easily be applied to humanity as a whole. manoa.hawaii.edu/news/article.php?aId=6515 – John Aug 8 at 14:30

The question is unclear. However, think about it this way: imagine an extreme case, a human who is 2.5 meters tall. I imagine there would be multiple health issues involved, many which would be 'physical' in nature. In fact, this is the case with people with gigantism. Joints would be under strains they were not 'designed for', cardiovascular issues would present too. Things are not linear, which is the crux of the square-cubed law. A heart of diameter of 20cm grows less rapidly than the appendages and circulatory volume of a super lanky person. It would be a simple plumbing/pumping issue.

There are other corollaries: lung surface area increases much more slowly than its volume. This is why lungs have different structures, and indeed, why lungs look as crumpled as they are. A balloon-shaped lung would not do for any large animal.

Also, taller people have a significantly shorter life expectancy. There are very many easily-accessible resources upon querying the Google machine.

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