Shorter men are likely to live longer than their taller compatriots thanks to a gene linked to longevity, according to a study conducted on Japanese men.

The research, which was conducted by following over 8000 US men of Japanese descent, found that  the shorter the men in the study – the longer they were likely to live.

“The folks that were 5-2 and shorter lived the longest. The range was seen all the way across from being 5-foot tall to 6-foot tall. The taller you got, the shorter you lived,” said Dr. Bradley Willcox, one of the investigators for the study.

Shorter men are more likely to have the protective form of the longevity gene FOXO3, which leads to smaller size during early development and is associated with longevity. The study is published in the peer reviewed medical journal Plos One.

Shorter men were also seen to have lower blood insulin levels, and were less likely to develop cancer.

It’s not all bad news for tall guys. Height makes up only one of the aspects that determines longevity.

“No matter how tall you are, you can still live a healthy lifestyle to offset having a typical FOXO3 genotype rather than the longevity-enhancing form of the FOXO3 gene,” said Dr Willcox.