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The tall gene

Over 4cm of men's height is due to the combination of just two genes, according to a new study undertaken at the University of Melbourne.The research, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism this week, identifies one gene on chromosome 15 and one on the Y chromosome as contributors to height in men. These genes may also help explain why men are taller than women.//

"If you have the tall version of both of these genes you will be taller than a person who only has the tall version of one of them," the author said.

The Y chromosome is the male sex chromosome, absent in women. The gene on chromosome 15, called CYP19, codes for aromatase - an enzyme that converts testosterone into oestrogen in both sexes. Oestrogen influences height because it is responsible for bones fusing over at the ends, which stops people growing.

A person's height depends on both genetic and environmental influences. Previous studies have identified the aromatase gene and the Y chromosome gene as height genes in men who are very tall or very short, but the Melbourne study shows they also help determine normal adult height in the general population.


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