During the MRC study, which was conducted in collaboration with University College London and Harvard School of Public Health, researchers examined the records of nearly 20,000 men.
Dr Linsay Gray, MRC researcher, said: "The message here is really clear: keeping your weight healthy as a young adult can significantly reduce your chance of developing cancer."
The researchers found that the risk of developing cancer was greater for obese teenagers than for those who gain significant weight later in life.
Obesity during teenage years increased the chance of developing cancer by 35 per cent, compared to those who had a Body Mass Index within the normal range.
Research from the University of Southern Maine has revealed that having fast-food stores near schools does not increase the likelihood of pupils becoming overweight.