Link #64: The World’s Tallest Man Was Almost 9 Feet Tall!

Robert Wadlow


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Link #64: The World’s Tallest Man Was Almost 9 Feet Tall!

Robert Wadlow
Robert Wadlow. Image credit: El señor Ubé y el señor Botijo CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Talking about the large tumour growth that covered Jose Mestre’s face in the last post, made us think of the world’s tallest man. The tallest man ever in the world was Robert Wadlow who lived in the early decades of the 20th century. How tall was he? He was almost 9 feet tall! How did he get so tall? Let’s find out!

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How Tall Was Robert Wadlow Really?

Robert Wadlow shoe (size 25) compared to normal size 12. Image credit: Doug Coldwell cc3.0

Robert Wadlow, the tallest man in the history of mankind with clear-cut evidence, was 8 feet and 11.1 inches tall. He weighed a massive 199 kilograms. Wadlow was so tall that his clothes and shoes were specially made for him.

In fact, by the time Wadlow was eight years old, he had become taller than his father and could actually carry him in his arms. Wadlow’s size was so great that he couldn’t feel his legs and feet and had to wear special braces to be able to walk around.

The reason that Wadlow was so tall and was even growing at the time of his death is a condition known as hyperplasia. Wadlow suffered from hyperplasia of his pituitary gland which is also the gland responsible for producing the human growth hormone.

In hyperplasia, the cells of the tissue never stop multiplying. This meant that Wadlow’s pituitary gland never stopped growing. As a result, his body never stopped producing the human growth hormone. The human growth hormone is the main reason why he grew so big so fast.

Why Did He Die So Young?

Leg Braces
Leg Braces by Adam Jones, Ph.D. – Global Photo Archive cc2.0

Wadlow died at the young age of just 22. He died because of an indirect mistake rather than health problems directly related to his height and size. The cause of Wadlow’s death was a faulty leg brace. During a public appearance, one of Wadlow’s leg braces wasn’t fitted properly. So the brace ended up chafing his ankle.

This chafing resulted in the development of a blister on the ankle. This blister then got infected with parasites. Wadlow received emergency surgery and even blood transfusion but complications involving an autoimmune disorder led to his death. There was a gap of only 11 days between Wadlow’s public appearance and his death.

Who is The Tallest Man in the World Right Now?

Sultan Kösen
Sultan Kösen. Image credit: Helgi Halldórsson cc2.0

While Robert Wadlow may be the tallest man ever to have lived on earth, the tallest man on the planet right now is Sultan Kosen from Turkey. Sultan Kosen is 8 feet 3 inches tall. He also holds the world record for having the biggest hands, and held the world record for having the biggest feet in the world.

Kosen’s growth spurt came after he turned 10. However, unlike Wadlow, Kosen stopped growing because of revolutionary surgery procedures. The reason for Kosen’s great height and size is also pituitary gigantism, i.e., overproduction of the human growth hormone. In Kosen’s case, overproduction of the human growth hormone was a result of tumorous growth on his pituitary gland. Kosen is a part time farmer who is one of five siblings with three brothers and one sister.

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