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Tallest Woman Dies: China’s Yao Defen Passes Away At 39

The world’s tallest woman has died at the age of 40 in her hometown in eastern China, according to the country’s state media.

Yao Defen, 7 feet 8 inches tall, passed away on November 13 in the house she shared with her mother in a small village in China’s central Anhui Province.

While Yao’s cause of death was still unknown at the time of this writing, Fox News notes that she suffered from gigantism, with a tumor on her pituitary gland disrupting her levels of growth hormone.

By the time she was just 15-years-old, Yao stood six feet, six inches tall and as an adult weighed over 400 pounds. At her peak height, she wore a massive size 26 shoe and was 10cm taller than former NBA giant Yao Ming.

Defen was officially given her “World’s Tallest Woman” title by the Guinness World Records in 2010.

Though there was hope for a time that Yao also would be able to have a successful career as a basketball player, the exertion of carrying her massive frame was eventually too much for her heart and lungs to take.

The Shanghaiist reports for a brief period Yao found work in a circus freak show which toured the country, but was allegedly subject to abuse and ridicule by the circus owners. She left the circus in 2004.

In a video in 2009, Yao expressed anguish at her height.

She said:

“I am very unhappy. Why am I this tall?

“If I were not this tall, others would not look at me like this.”

According to Guinness, Yao Defen was the third tallest woman in history, only five inches shorter than Zeng Jinlian the tallest woman ever who measured 8 feet 1.75 inches.