They found that people with very large waists had approximately twice the risk of death compared to those with the smallest waists.
A very large waist was defined as 47 inches or larger in men, and 42 inches or larger in women. The small end was defined as 35 inches in men and 30 inches in women.
"We were interested in looking at waist size because it's strongly correlated to fat tissue in the abdomen, which is the most dangerous kind of fat issue," said Eric J. Jacobs, PhD, American Cancer Society strategic director.
Abdominal fat is associated with type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease.
"We found a pattern showing that expanding waist size was linked to a greater risk of dying regardless of body weight," said Jacobs. "Similarly, people with the smallest waist sizes had the lowest risk. The take home message here is watch your waist size regardless of your weight."