Weight in early adulthood is linked to cancer deaths
posted on: Jun 16, 2011
A collaboration between MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University College London, and Harvard School of Public Health has found an association between weight at 18 years of age and death from cancer many decades later.
The study used data collected from 20,000 men who attended Harvard University between 1914 and 1952.
Lead author, Dr Linsay Gray
said: “Very few studies have the data to examine the impact of weight in early adulthood on later risk of chronic disease such as cancer. We found an 11% increased risk in cancer death for every 2.5 kg/m2
increase in body mass index (a measure of obesity). With the rise in obesity over recent decades, particularly among young people, these findings may point to a greater future burden of cancer.”.
The effect remained even after accounting for weight in middle-age. Associations between obesity and cancers of the lung, skin, oesophagus and urogenital sites were also found.
The research was funded by the Wellcome Trust.
See Gray L, Lee I-M, Sesso HD, Batty GD. Association of body mass index in early adulthood and middle-age with site-specific cancer mortality: over 80 years of follow-up in the Harvard Alumni Health Study. Annals of Oncology (in press)