China's Yao Defen, the world's tallest woman as verified by Guinness World Records, has died at the age of 40.

Yao, who measured 233.3 cm (7 ft 7 in) when last documented, is reported to have passed away in the house she shared with her mother in a small village in China's central Anhui Province.

Yao's height was attributed to a tumour on her pituitary gland, the organ that regulates the production of growth hormones.

The tumour, which was partially removed in 2006, is believed to have caused growth spurts that saw Yao reach the height of 6ft 6in at the age of just 15.

The cause of Yao's death has so far not been disclosed.

"You couldn't help but be moved by Defen's story," said Guinness World Records Editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday.

"As most of the world's tallest people experience, it isn't easy living in an average-sized world, and life expectancy can be tragically short. We're comforted by the fact that we were able to give Defen the opportunity to have her story told around the world and bring her to the attention of the medical community. Now, though, our thoughts are with her family."