Lesbians Have Lower Rates of Cancer Screening, Higher Risks


An analysis comparing gay/lesbian and bisexual survey respondents in Massachusetts to heterosexual counterparts found that gays, lesbians and bisexuals were more than twice as likely to be current smokers (Gay/lesbian OR=2.33, Gay men OR=2.42, Lesbian OR=2.20; Bisexual OR=2.65, Bisexual men OR=2.03, Bisexual women OR=3.00).

The study aggregated data from the 2001-2008 population-based Massachusetts Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Surveys and examined several socio-economic and health characteristics by sexual orientation and gender. Logistic regression analyses controlled for age, gender, and education. (Source: Conron, KJ, Mimiaga, MJ, & Landers, SJ, 2010, “A Population-Based Study of Sexual Orientation Identity and Gender Differences in Adult Health,” American Journal of Public Health, Volume 100, Number 10, pp. 1953-1960.)

For Further Thought

  • As a probability study, the findings of this study are arguably generalizeable to the adult population of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Would you expect to find similar LGB smoking disparities in your state? How might the social, political and legal context of Massachusetts impact the observed magnitude of LGB disparities?
  • Bisexual respondents, and bisexual women in particular, appear to be at the greatest risk for current smoking. What factors might put bisexuals at greater risk?