Here’s another bit of news to help encourage overweight men to drop the extra pounds. A link has been found between excess weight in 18-year-old males and increased risk of cancer-related death later in life. The Harvard Alumni Health Study cohort involved 19,593 males who had had physical examinations when they were 18. The men then submitted follow-up questionnaires at age 45, with a final vital status follow-up at a maximum of 82 years. After analyzing the data, researchers learned that 2,395 of the men had died of some form of cancer. Of those deaths, the most common cancers were lung, colon and colorectal. The strongest associations between body mass index (BMI)—the researcher’s primary method of assessment—and cancer occurred with lung, skin, esophageal, kidney, bladder, prostate and testicular cancers.

“BMI during early adulthood among Harvard undergraduates was associated with elevated rates of total cancer plus cancer of the lung, esophagus, skin and urogenital sites,” the study authors wrote. “Unchecked, the increasing prevalence of obesity seen in Europe, North America and emerging economic areas will likely lead to an increase in the incidence of some cancers.” The study was published in the Annals of Oncology (2011; doi:10.1093/annonc/mdr270).

Interested in helping the undergraduate population improve health and wellness? Read “Tapping the College Market” on page 26 of this issue.