World's Tallest Man, Sultan Kosen, Has Stopped Growing

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LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 16: (EMBARGOED UNTIL 00.01AM ON SEPTEMBER 17) The worlds new tallest man Sultan Kosen 26, of Turkey poses in front of Tower Bridge to celebrate the launch of the 2010 Guinness Book of Records, on September 16, 2009 in London, England. Sultan Kosen stands at 8ft 1in and also holds the record for the largest hands and largest feet at 27.5cm and 36.5cm respectively. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Sultan Kosen of Turkey has the longest body of any living person, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. He's 8 feet, 3 inches tall.

Kosen, 29, might now lead a longer life because University of Virginia Medical Center specialists have helped him stop growing, said Dr. Jason Sheehan, who performed surgery in 2010 on Kosen's pituitary gland.

The surgery, along with new medicine provided by researchers, has met a two-year window of success, Sheehan told The Richmond Times-Dispatch

Kosen's condition is known as acromegaly, or in layman's terms, gigantism, caused when a pituitary tumor causes release of excessive growth hormone. Unusual height in itself does not translate to an automatic link with acromegaly. Heredity also is a factor. None of the famous tall basketball players has been linked to gigantism.

But popular 1980s wrestler Andre the Giant (Andre Rene Roussinoff of France) was diagnosed with acromegaly, although his height was a mere 6-foot-11. Roussinoff had primative facial features and weighed nearly 500 pounds.

Excessive size in the past has led to premature death. Robert Wadlow of Alton, Ill., regarded as the tallest man in recorded history at 8 feet, 11 inches, was 22 years old when he died in 1940. Roussinoff was 46 when he died in 1993.

Kosen, who walks with the aid of crutches due to his condition's stress on his knees, toured the world in 2009 on behalf of the Guinness Book of World Records and appeared on NBC's "Today Show." He described a difficult childhood with his low-income rural farm family but emphasized the Guinness-aided medical assistance has given him a more positive outlook on life.

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