Gigantism is a condition caused by the overproduction of growth hormones most common in children, while Acromegaly is a condition similar to gigantism but affects people during adulthood.
Many cases of growth anomalies are due to tumors in the pituitary gland that caused the release of growth hormones uncontrollably. This condition requires surgery, without proper treatment it can result in severe disfigurement, complicating conditions, and premature death.
Reports of gigantism exist throughout history, in the bible, and mythology even. Peak through the 10 tallest women who ever lived.
10- Marianne Wehde- 7’2
German-born Pauline Marie Elizabeth Wehde also known as Marrianne Wehde was born in January 1866. She began touring in England, France, and Ireland at age 16.
In 1882, she was advertised as the soon-to-be bride of Joseph Drasal— a seven-foot-tall man. What got to play the Amazon Queen in “Babel and Bijou” which was shown in the London Alhambra. She has reportedly passed away before her 19th birthday in 1884.
9- Maria Fassnauer – 7’3”
Maria Fassnauer also known as the “Giantess of Tirol” was born to a family of farmers in Germany. Fassnauer’s giantism started when she was three, and her growth in height was so different compared to children of her age.
At fifteen years old, Fassnauer was already over six-foot-tall and had several offers to work for a travelling circus. Though her parents were reluctant, Fassnauer herself accepted and went on a seven-year tour through all of Europe with her sister.
She gave the money she earned to her parents and spent much of her free time praying in various churches across the land. The circus team became popular in Vienna, Berlin, Hamburg, London, and Manchester. Fassnauer was a star attraction at fairs and festivals, she was often called “Monster for Millions”.
Her job required standing for such a long time, and she suffered from ulcerated legs, she finally retired in 1913. Fassnauer lived with her parents until her death in 1917, she was only 38.
8-Ella Ewing – 7’4.5”
Ella Kate Ewing from Missouri was considered the tallest American woman during her lifetime, and was often referred as “The Missouri Giantess”.
As a child, she was growing normally until shortly after she was seventh and at age fourteen, she was already 6 feet 10 inches tall, towering over most children of her age, even her parents and other adults.
Ewing worked at circuses and sideshows and was famously introduced as the “Earth’s Tallest Woman”. In several accounts she was claimed to be over eight feet tall, however, the Guinness Book of Records has stated she measured 7 feet 4 and a half inches tall. Ewing died of pneumonia in January 1913, at the age of forty.
7- Anna Haining Swan-7’5.5”
Anna Haining Swan was born to Scottish immigrants in Canada in 1846. Though her parents were of average size, Anna Haining Swan as a young child was already growing quite rapidly.
She was over four feet at the age of four and was over six feet by the time she was ten. By the time she was 16, she was measured 7’5.5” tall. Swan was also known for her talents in the arts, she excelled at her studies of acting, piano, and voice.
She found love with Martin Van Buren Bates — another enormously tall person, she met while visiting a circus in Halifax, the couple married in 1871. Anna gave birth to two children, the first was a girl born in May 1872, and the second child in 1879, the infant survived only 11 hours.
He was the largest newborn ever recorded, at nearly 24 pounds and 30 inches tall and each of his feet was six inches long. Swan herself died from heart failure in 1888 at age 42.
6- Carolina Rascón -7’5.5”
According to a newspaper article, Carolina Rascón and her twin sister Simona were born in 1917 in Chihuahua Mexico. Growing up, the twins began to show radical differences in their growth.
Carolina towered over her twin sister Simona and was the size of a 10-year-old child when they were six. Her feet were so big and her shoes had to be customed-made.
When the twins turned 10, Simona was normal in size, while Carolina had the appearance of an adolescent and possessed extraordinary strength. At 27 years old, Carolina is so strong that she can easily carry a man on each arm and can lift a pony as easily as an average person picks up a dog.
She grew to be 7’5.5″ tall and was said to be the world’s tallest woman at the time. Carolina lived a reclusive life and there are only little known facts about her.
5- Delores Pullard -7’5.5”
Delores Pullard was born to normal-sized parents in Louisiana, her father Clarence was 5’9″ and her mother was 5’11”. Pullard’s height was often mistakenly reported as 8’2”, but she was 7 feet 5.5 inches according to the website thetallestman.com.
She died at the age of 24 in 1971, her death was due to complications that arose from a surgery to remove a tumor in the pituitary gland at the base of her brain.
4- Sandy Allen – 7’7.25”
Sandy Allen was a U.S. woman recognized as the tallest woman during her life according to Guinness World Records, she was 7’7″ in height. According to TheTallestMan.com, Allen underwent surgery at the age of 22 to remove the tumor affecting her growth.
The procedure remedied her abnormal growth and hindered further complications associated with gigantism. Her height landed her a few film and TV appearances, she appeared in the Academy Award-winning Italian film Il Casanova di Federico Fellini, in a TV movie called Side Show, and is a Canadian/American documentary film called Being Different.
Allen spent her later years wheelchair-bound as she was not being able to support her own stature. According to the Indianapolis Star, Allen died in the summer of 2008 from renal failure.
3- Yao Defen – 7’8”
Yao Defen was born to a poor family of farmers in China in 1972. When she was eleven years old she was about 6’2” tall and by the age of fifteen she was 6’9” tall.
Yao’s giant stature was caused by a large tumor in the pituitary gland of the brain that releases too much growth hormone and causes excessive growth.
Defen underwent surgery in 2002 to remove the tumor only to have new growth in the pituitary gland five years after. Defen was one of the tallest women, as recognized by Guinness World Records, she stood at 7’8″ in height and was the tallest living woman in her time until her death in 2012.
2- Jane Bunford – 7’11”
Jane Bunford was born in Birmingham in the U.K. on July 26, 1895. Her growth anomaly resulted from an accidental fall that fractured her skull and damaged her pituitary gland causing too much release of growth hormone.
During the early 1900s, there was no treatment available for hyperpituitarism. Bunford was already seven-foot-tall around the time of her 15th birthday.
She was the tallest person in the world during her lifetime and was the tallest person ever recorded in England, Scotland or Wales. She was also the tallest person recorded in Britain and was the tallest woman in world medical history at the time of her death in 1922.
1- Zeng Jinlian – 8’1.75”
Zeng Jinlian was born in China in 1964, she was the tallest woman ever verified in medical history, taking over Jane Bunford’s record. Zeng is also the only woman counted among the 16 people who have reached verified heights of eight feet or more.
Jinlian was the tallest person in the world, at the time of her death at the age of 17. She would have been 8 feet, 1.75 inches tall (scoliosis prevented her from standing fully erect).
Jinlian had also broken Robert Wadlow’s previous record of tallest 17 year-old ever.