NEW YORK: Gay and bisexual men are more likely to suffer skin cancer than straight men, according to a study.
According to the researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the US, rates of skin cancer were higher among gay and bisexual men compared to heterosexual men but lower among bisexual women than heterosexual women.
Rates of skin cancer were 8.1 per cent among gay men and 8.4 per cent among bisexual men, statistically higher than the rate of 6.7 per cent among heterosexual men.
Smaller studies have reported higher usage of indoor tanning beds among sexual minority men, a known risk factor for skin cancer.
“It’s absolutely critical that we ask about sexual orientation and gender identity in national health surveys; if we never ask the question, we’d never know that these differences exist,” said corresponding author Arash Mostaghimi from the Brigham.
For the findings, published in the journal JAMA Dermatology, the research team leveraged data from the Behavioural Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), using data collected from annual questionnaires from 2014 to 2018.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) uses the BRFSS to collect information about risk factors and behaviours among adults. About 450,000 adults are interviewed by telephone by the BRFSS each year.
The researchers compared skin cancer rates among heterosexual men to rates in gay or bisexual men and compared rates among heterosexual women to lesbian or bisexual women.
Skin cancer rates were 5.9 per cent among lesbian women and 6.6 per cent among heterosexual women, which was not a statistically significant difference.
However, the rate of 4.7 per cent among bisexual women was statistically significantly lower than heterosexual women.
The BRFSS survey did not collect information about risk factors for skin cancer, such as UV exposure, Fitzpatrick skin type (a measure of skin colour and susceptibility to sun burn), HIV status and more.