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Why do people shrink as they age?

Long story short, what grows up, will eventually grow down.
Why do people shrink as they age?
Posted at 12:18 PM, Mar 15, 2023

You might get wiser with age,but increased wits may also come with a decrease in height. 

Doctor Sundeep Khosla is a professor of medicine and physiology at the Mayo Clinic.  

"Everybody shrinks as we age: women and men," Khosla said. 

He says long story short, what grows up, will eventually grow down. One of the reasons for shrinking with age is weakening disks between our vertebrae. 

"With aging, even without rupturing those disks, those tend to get compressed for a variety of reasons. And so that happens inevitably with everybody. And so, everybody's going to lose some height because of the cumulative effect of all of the disks getting thinner, basically as we're getting older," Khosla said. 

Another reason people shrink over the years is osteoporosis. The condition causes your bones to become weaker and can lead to bone fractures and a drop in height.  

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Some 10 million people in the U.S. over the age of 50 have osteoporosis. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, women are at greater risk for it than men. 

If you do notice your view is beginning to look different as you age, don’t worry too much. Natural shrinking won’t drop you from George Clooney height to Danny DeVito stature.   

"Over the course of a lifetime, you know, an individual may lose about an inch of height or something in that range," Khosla said. 

A study that followed residents in Baltimore found men lost an average of 1.2 inches between the ages of 30 and 70. Women shrunk by about two inches.

A healthy lifestyle including exercise and a good diet can help prevent osteoporosis, but according to doctor Khosla, there’s no way to guarantee weakening disks won’t impact your height. 

"To my knowledge, there's no way really to prevent the shrinkage of the disks. I mean, that's just with aging and gravity that's going to happen on the weight of the spinal cord," he said. 

So as you inch toward the future, you’ll likely lose an inch or two on the way.