Gays Linked to Higher Cancer Rates

Researchers scramble for an explanation
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted May 10, 2011 2:20 AM CDT
Demonstrators last week rally in Rhode Island for equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians.   (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
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(Newser) – A US study has discovered higher reports of cancer among gays, and researchers are at a loss to explain why. The study of more than 120,000 Californians found that gay men were twice as likely as straight men to report a cancer diagnosis, which occurred, on average, a decade earlier than similar cases for heterosexual men. There was no similar finding for lesbians, though lesbians were more likely to report feeling in "fair or poor health" than heterosexual women. The study didn't compare total number of cancer cases because it only dealt with cancer survivors.

Some researchers speculate that the apparent higher cancer rates could be linked to the higher rate of anal cancer among gays tied to the Human Papilloma Virus, or because of greater incidents of HIV infection, which has been linked to cancer, reports the BBC. Others blamed "minority stress" for poorer health. A cancer organization spokeswoman pointed to "some health inequalities as a result of sexuality." Smoking rates, for example, tend to be higher among homosexual men and women than in heterosexuals, she said. It's also possible more gays are reporting cancer because more gay than heterosexual cancer victims have survived. "We'd need larger studies to find out," said one expert.

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