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The associations between height components (leg and trunk length) and adult levels of liver enzymes
  1. A Fraser1,
  2. S Ebrahim2,
  3. G Davey Smith1,
  4. D A Lawlor1
  1. 1
    Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol, Canynge Hall, Bristol, UK
  2. 2
    Department of Epidemiology & Population Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  1. Abigail Fraser, Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol, Canynge Hall, Whiteladies Road, Bristol BS8 2PR, UK; Abigail.fraser{at}


Study objective: To examine the separate associations of leg length, a biomarker of prepubertal exposures and growth, and trunk length with adult levels of liver enzymes: alanine aminotransferase (ALT), gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT), aspartate transaminase (AST) and alkaline phosphatase (ALP).

Methods: A cross-sectional analysis of baseline data from the British Women’s Health and Heart Study, a random sample of British women aged 60–79 years.

Results: Leg length was inversely associated with age-adjusted levels of ALT, GGT and ALP. These associations remained when controlling for childhood and adulthood social class, physical activity, smoking, alcohol consumption, waist-to-hip ratio and trunk length. Trunk length was positively associated with ALT and inversely associated with ALP and the associations remained when adjusting for covariables.

Conclusions: Adult liver function is affected by early life environmental exposures as reflected in leg length, and this may suggest common childhood influences on liver development and adult risk of diabetes and coronary heart disease. Further studies with detailed measures of early life exposures relevant to leg length would be valuable in identifying any specific exposures contributing to adult liver function and cardiovascular disease.

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  • Competing interests: None.

  • Funding: AF receives support from the University of Bristol Overseas Research Student Award Scheme and DAL is funded by a (UK) Department of Health career scientist award.

  • The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and not necessarily those of any funding body. No funding body has influenced the analysis or its interpretation.

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