Zeng Jinlian Cause of Death: How the Tallest Woman Ever Died at 17

Zeng Jinlian was the tallest woman ever verified in modern times, according to Guinness World Records. She measured 8 ft 1.75 in (248.29 cm) when she died on February 13, 1982, at the age of 17. She was also the only woman in history to reach a height of over 8 feet. But what caused her extraordinary growth and premature death?

The Pituitary Tumor and Gigantism

Zeng Jinlian was born on June 26, 1964, in Yujiang village, Hunan Province, China. She was a normal-sized baby, but she began to grow abnormally from the age of four months. She stood 156 cm (5 ft 1.5 in) before her fourth birthday and 217 cm (7 ft 1.5 in) when she was aged 13.

The reason for her excessive growth was a pituitary tumor, a benign mass that develops in the pituitary gland at the base of the brain. The pituitary gland produces several hormones that regulate growth, metabolism, and other bodily functions. One of these hormones is growth hormone (GH), which stimulates the growth of bones and tissues.

A pituitary tumor can cause the gland to produce too much GH, leading to a condition called gigantism. Gigantism is characterized by abnormal and accelerated growth in children and adolescents, resulting in very tall stature and large body parts. Gigantism can also cause other health problems, such as headaches, vision loss, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

The Diabetes and Scoliosis

Zeng Jinlian suffered from both gigantism and diabetes, a chronic disease that affects how the body uses glucose (sugar) for energy. Diabetes can be caused by various factors, including genetics, lifestyle, and hormonal disorders. In Zeng’s case, her pituitary tumor may have disrupted the normal function of the pancreas, the organ that produces insulin, a hormone that helps glucose enter the cells.

Diabetes can have serious complications if not managed properly, such as nerve damage, kidney failure, stroke, and infections. Zeng Jinlian also had scoliosis, a condition that causes the spine to curve sideways. Scoliosis can affect breathing, posture, movement, and appearance. Zeng’s scoliosis was severe and caused her spine to bend at a 90-degree angle.

The Refusal of Treatment and Death

Zeng Jinlian’s condition attracted attention from both the public and the medical community. She was visited by several doctors who offered to treat her by radiation and surgery. However, she refused to undergo any treatment because she feared losing her hair or dying on the operating table.

She also did not want to leave her hometown or be separated from her family. Her parents were of average height (163 cm or 5 ft 4.5 in for her father and 156 cm or 5 ft 1.5 in for her mother) and had a normal-sized brother (158 cm or 5 ft 2.5 in). They loved and cared for their daughter despite their poverty and hardship.

Zeng Jinlian died on February 13, 1982, in her home. The exact cause of her death is not clear, but it may have been related to diabetes or a pituitary tumor hemorrhage. She was buried in a specially made coffin that measured 2.9 m (9 ft 6 in) long and weighed 400 kg (882 lb).

Zeng Jinlian remains the tallest woman ever recorded in medical history. She surpassed Jane Bunford’s record of 7 ft 11 in (241.3 cm), who died in 1922 at the age of 26. Zeng also held the record for the tallest person alive for a brief period in 1982 after Don Koehler’s death until Gabriel Estêvão Monjane’s recognition.

Zeng Jinlian’s life was short but remarkable. She faced many challenges and difficulties due to her extraordinary height and health problems. She also experienced fame and curiosity from people around the world who wanted to see or know more about her. She was a unique and unforgettable figure who left an indelible mark on history.

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