New Study: LGBT People At Higher Risk Of Skin Cancer

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Health experts say LGBTQ people are in greater danger of developing skin cancer than their straight/cisgender peers.

According to Reuters, two new reports from JAMA Dermatology warn of a newly discovered risk for LGBTQ people. Researchers analyzed survey data from the 2014 to 2018 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System questionnaires. The data included over 800,000 U.S. adults who developed skin cancer. Unfortunately, gender non-conforming people, gay men, and bisexual men were more likely within the survey pool.

After analyzing the data, Mostaghimi and his colleagues released two papers: one on skin cancer and sexual orientation, and another one skin cancer and gender identity. In the paper focused on sexual orientation, which used info from 845,264 people, gay men were 26% more likely to “have a lifetime history of skin cancer” compared to their straight peers. Meanwhile, bisexual men were 48% more likely to straight men. For straight and lesbian women, the risk stayed primarily the same. Though, the risk for bisexual women were 22% less common.

As for the study on gender identity, 864,147 adults, many of whom were used in the other paper, from varying gender identities were included. This paper reported that the risk for gender-nonconforming men were doubled that of their cisgender male peers.

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But what’s the cause for this increase in risk? Figuring that out is the next step that JAMA Dermatology’s researchers want to take.

“We need to understand what is driving (this increased risk), why these groups are more susceptible and what could be done to reduce the risk,” said Dr. Arash Mostaghimi, the director of dermatology inpatient consultation at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

One possible behavior that has led to this risk is the use of tanning salons. Last year, we shared with you a study that pointed out that tanning salons are targeting gay men and putting them at risk of skin cancer. The study from Stanford University’s School of Medicine found that gayborhoods and gay-friendly neighborhoods were twice as likely to have indoor tanning salons. Researchers believed that since gay/bi men are six times as likely to frequent the businesses, they are built to target them. While that initially seems like a reasonable business plan, tanning salons are also subsequently targeting communities already at high risk of skin cancer.

“Our concern is whether the tanning industry is targeting high-risk communities, similar to how the tobacco industry has done in the past, marketing to vulnerable groups,” wrote dermatology professor Eleni Linos.

“Your built environment has a tremendous influence on your health in both positive and negative ways,” Dr. Linos aded. “As public health researchers and advocates, we are committed to improving people’s health. By supporting healthier neighborhoods, we have the potential to benefit the health of an entire community.”

Sources: Reuters, JAMA Dermatology

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