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Yao Defen

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Yao Defen (姚德芬)
Born(1972-07-15)July 15, 1972
DiedNovember 13, 2012(2012-11-13) (aged 40)
Shucheng, Liuan, Anhui, China
Known forTallest living woman (former; deceased)
World record holder
Height7 ft 7.85 in (233.30 cm)

Yao Defen (Chinese: 姚德芬; pinyin: Yáo Défēn; July 15, 1972 – November 13, 2012[1]) was the tallest living woman, as recognized by Guinness World Records.[2] She stood at 7 ft 8 in tall and weighed 346 lb (157kg).[3] Her gigantism was due to a tumor in her pituitary gland.

Early life


Yao Defen was born to poor farmers in the town of Liuan in the Anhui province of Shucheng County. At birth she weighed 2.8 kilograms (6.2 lb). When she was eleven years old she was about 188 centimetres (6 ft 2 in) tall. She was 210 centimetres (6 ft 11 in) tall by the age of fifteen years.

The story of this "giant woman" began to spread rapidly after she went to see a doctor at the age of fifteen for an illness. Medical doctors (who also saw her after years) properly diagnosed the illness but decided not to cure her, because her family did not have the 4000 yuan for the surgery.[4] After that, many companies attempted to train her to be a sports star. The plans were abandoned, however, because Yao was too weak. Because she was illiterate, since 1992 Defen earned a living by traveling with her father and performing.

Yao's giant stature was caused by a condition called gigantism, wherein a large tumor in the pituitary gland of the brain releases too much growth hormone and causes excessive growth (Gigantism differs from acromegaly because growth hormone takes effect before growth plates are closed; in acromegaly, growth hormone takes effect after growth plates have closed). Around 2002 a hospital in Guangdong removed the tumor. In 2009, the TLC cable TV network devoted a whole night's show to her. She fell in her home and had internal bleeding of the brain. She recovered and felt some happiness after a visit from China's tallest man, Zhang Juncai.



Yao died on November 13, 2012, at the age of 40 from an unspecified ailment.[5]

Preceded by Tallest Recognized Woman
Succeeded by
Sun Fang (2.21 m)

See also



  1. ^ "皖籍"世界第一女巨人"姚德芬去世|女性|半岛网". News.bandao.cn. 2012-11-15. Archived from the original on 2012-12-09. Retrieved 2012-12-04.
  2. ^ Glenday, Craig (ed.) Guinness World Records 2011. Guinness World Records, 2010.
  3. ^ "World's tallest woman dies in China". CBC. 5 December 2012. Retrieved 11 December 2020.
  4. ^ Discovery document, part of "My shocking story" film series.
  5. ^ "World's tallest woman, 39, dies in China". cbsnews. Retrieved 5 December 2012.