College athletics, body size, and cancer mortality

Cancer. 1976 Jul;38(1):382-7. doi: 10.1002/1097-0142(197607)38:1<382::aid-cncr2820380155>;2-v.


Data are presented on mortality from neoplasms as determined from death certificates in a cohort of 8393 college men, according to athletic status in college. Major athletes (lettermen) died significantly more often from neoplasms than nonathletes. Mean age at death from neoplasms (underlying cause) was significantly lower in major athletes than in both minor athletes and nonathletes. After matching major athletes with nonathletes of comparable body size (height and weight), differences in proportional mortality and mean age at death from neoplasms persisted, although not statistically significant for the smaller samples. Correlation coefficients (Pearson r) and partial r's between weight in college and age at death from neoplasms were negative but of low magnitude. Some possible explanations for the differences between major athletes and nonathletes are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Body Height*
  • Body Weight*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Physical Exertion
  • Schools
  • Sports Medicine*