Researchers found that gay men are 1.9 times more likely to report having had cancer than their straight counterparts. The same study concluded that lesbians and bisexual women are more than twice as likely to report having poor or fair health after having cancer.
The study, done by Boston University School of Public Health, does not mean that gay people are more likely to have cancer, only that they are more likely to report health issues and seek more immediate medical care.
The study indicates a need to evaluate more carefully why gay people are more likely to report health issues, researcher Ulrike Boehmer told MSNBC. Lifestyle differences, prevalence of other diseases, support from others and access to health care might play key roles in the differences.
There are a variety of possible explanations for the reason lesbians and bisexual women report lower than average health after surviving cancer, Boehmer said. One of the possible reasons could be minority stress, which indicates that minorities who experience discrimination experience lasting negative psychological effects.
“It’s been my experience that the lower quality of life that lesbians report after a cancer diagnosis does not reveal as much about the particular diagnosis, but more about our life experience in general, particularly when confronting a major life crisis,” Linda Ellis, executive director of the Atlanta Lesbian Health Initiative in Georgia, told MSNBC.
The study was reported in the Cancer Journal.