People who have short legs face an increased risk of developing liver disease, experts claim.
A study of more than 3,000 women found that those with shorter legs are more likely to have higher levels of four liver enzymes which indicate how well the organ is functioning.
Their standing and seated heights were measured, including leg and trunk length, and blood samples were taken to measure the levels of the four enzymes, ALT, GGT, AST and ALP.
The researchers found that the longer a woman's legs were, the lower the levels of ALT, GGT and ALP. In particular, ALT levels were lowest among those with the longest legs.
These findings were still true even after factors such as age, childhood social class, adult alcohol consumption, exercise and smoking were accounted for.
The authors concluded that childhood exposure to things such as good nutrition, which influences growth, also influences liver development and therefore the levels of liver enzymes in adulthood.
A greater height may help to boost the size of the liver, which can decrease the enzyme levels.
The research, which was carried out by the Department of Social Medicine at the University of Bristol, and the Department of Epidemiology and Population Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, is published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.