Robert Wadlow, How Did He Grow So Tall?

When one has any form of interest over the subject of height, a natural question that appears is “Who was the tallest person to ever live, in all of human history?”

When that question is posed, one can only speak from the known medical records which are available. We could go into the Bible and talk about the 9 feet tall Goliath, the Mummified Bodies of Red Haired Giant Indians (Reference Link 1, Reference Link 2), Gigantopithecus (Reference Link 1, Reference Link 2), Bigfoots and Yetis, or even other human giant legends but we won’t because none of these stories, legensds, or myths can be substantiated. So who is the tallest person who has irrefutable proof?

The name Robert Wadlow appears again and again as the title holder, one which has held for almost a century now.

Robert Wadlow lived from 1918 to 1940 and was measured at an amazing 8′ 11.1″ for his maximum height, which was done only a few weeks before his untimely death.

Compared to his contemporaries he still stood far taller than most other giants in his era. Many tall individuals in other countries would come and meet Wadlow to see him for themselves whether he was as tall as he claim and was often left shocked and amazed that he was honest in his stature.

Taken from the Wikipedia article on him and his life found HERE, we quote this passage about his abnormal growth cycle.

“” His great size and his continued growth in adulthood was due to hypertrophy of his pituitary gland, which results in an abnormally high level of human growth hormone. He showed no indication of an end to his growth even at the time of his death. “”

What is surprising about Wadlow’s case was that he had shown no sign stopping in growing when he died. Unlike most other giants who have suffered from Gigantism (and then Acrogemaly) , his growth seemed to not diminish with age however that could only be because he only lived to be 22. If he had lived to his 40s, which would have been a clear possibility, his growth might have slowed or stopped by then, but he might have reached 10 feet in height by then.

Wadlow’s case is very unique even for giants because it appears that he did not suffer from the normal causes of Gigantism, which is from some form of tumor, benign or malignant, pushing against the pituitary gland thus effectively causing the gland to squeeze out more height growth hormone. His condition reveals that his actualy pituitary gland was what had a condition, due to hypertrophy. Taken from the Wikipedia article on hypertrophy, it is defined as the increase in the volume of an organ or tissue due to the enlargement of its component cells. Thus, there was no foreign object pushing on the gland, but the gland itself which was abnormally large. This would suggest that the gland produced many different forms of hormones in excess, not just HGH and probably would never have decrease in size. As long the pituitary gland keeps secreting the right hormones in excess, the body would still respond by being activated to carry out its functions.

I remember reading an article saying that Wadlow’s hypertrophic pituitary gland prevented even puberty from being activated. Since puberty could not be activated, that means that the long bones would never get the signals to start closing the growth plates and seal the epiphyseal plates.

Overall, we gain two hints on why Wadlow’s case is so unique and why he might have never stopped growing. The first one is because that it was his pituitary gland that was enlarged, not a foreign tumor that was pressing on his gland. The second one is that apparently Wadlow’s pituitary gland was producing so much HGH that the normal process of puberty was completely stopped or delayed. My concluding thoughts are to ask how did the puberty process completely stopped with his endocrine system and whether his condition can ever be reproduced.

4 thoughts on “Robert Wadlow, How Did He Grow So Tall?

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  2. Pingback: Further Study On Robert Wadlow And The Hyperpituitarism Which Made Him The Tallest Record Person In History | Natural Height Growth

  3. Joe

    isnt pituitary gland giants able to grow that tall due to having their plates never closing?

    its good to keep growing but the problem is that without ossification the bones would not be able to support the increasing mass of the body as it gets taller and that would cause ankle and other damage and they are incapable of walking properly let alone run

    at best a basketball player’s height gain or other sports player that is tall might be better reference

    Reply

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