Obesity and overweight in relation to organ-specific cancer mortality in London (UK): findings from the original Whitehall study

Int J Obes (Lond). 2005 Oct;29(10):1267-74. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0803020.


Objective: To examine the relation of obesity and overweight with organ-specific cancer mortality.

Methods: In the Whitehall prospective cohort study of London-based government employees, 18 403 middle-age men participated in a medical examination between 1967 and 1970. Subjects were followed up for cause-specific mortality for up to 35 y (median: interquartile range (25th-75th centile); 28.1 y: 18.6-33.8).

Results: There were over 3000 cancer deaths in this cohort. There was a raised risk of mortality from carcinoma of the rectum, bladder, colon, and liver, and for lymphoma in obese or overweight men following adjustment for range of covariates, which included socioeconomic position and physical activity. These relationships held after exclusion of deaths occurring in the first 20 y of follow-up.

Conclusion: Avoidance of obesity and overweight in adult life may reduce the risk of developing some cancers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • London / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / complications
  • Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / mortality*
  • Overweight
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors