Older LGBT People Suffer More Chronic Pain Than Heterosexual Counterparts

In todays age, people are aging more gracefully. Medicine has come a long way, and people are living the longest they ever have. Yet, problems still arise, and we are human, susceptible all kinds of things.  Maybe one day, almost everything will be cured, but in the mean time, we'll have to listen to our doctors and continue to eat our veggies.

A study by the University of Washington found that older lesbian, gay, and bisexual people were more likely to suffer from chronic health issues than their heterosexual counterparts.

The study stated:

In general, lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) older adults were found to be in poorer health than heterosexuals, specifically in terms of higher rates of cardiovascular disease, weakened immune system and low back or neck pain. They also were at greater risk of some adverse health behaviors such as smoking and excessive drinking. At the same time, however, findings point to areas of resilience, with more LGB adults engaging in preventive health measures, such as obtaining HIV tests and blood pressure screening.

The study also noted that people expected gay and bisexual men to have more adverse health issues due to the increased risk for HIV. Lesbian and bisexual women did not have the same stigma and therefore weren't always getting the attention the needed. It was also reported that bisexual men and women may be marginalized by both heterosexual and homosexual communities leading to "feeling more isolated and experience greater stress," which could lead to even more health problems down the road. 

The full findings included:

  • Disability and mental distress are significantly more prevalent among lesbians or gay men than among their bisexual counterparts.
  • Strokes, heart attacks, asthma, arthritis and lower back or neck pain affected significantly greater percentages of lesbian and bisexual women than heterosexual women. For example, 53 percent of lesbians and bisexual women experienced lower back or neck pain, versus not quite 40 percent of heterosexuals.
  • Nearly 7 percent of gay and bisexual men, compared to 4.8 percent of heterosexual men, suffered chest pain related to heart disease.
  • More LGB people reported weakened immune systems: about 17 percent of women, and 15 percent of men, compared to 10 percent of heterosexual women, and 5 percent of heterosexual men.
  • Lesbian and bisexual women were up to two times as likely to engage in adverse health behaviors such as excessive drinking.
  • More than three-fourths of gay and bisexual men, and almost half of lesbians and bisexual women, had received an HIV test. In contrast, roughly one-fourth of heterosexuals had obtained a test.
  • Slightly more lesbian and bisexual women had health insurance than heterosexual women, a possible reflection of professional choices, financial independence or same-sex partner benefits.

The study did not delve into the factors causing poor health issues. Karen Fredriksen-Goldsen, a UW social work professor, did look to Aging With Pride, who had studied what may cause these factors, and pointed to discrimination and victimization as major factors at play. 

As time progresses and science and medicine make more advances, along with a more progressive society, hopefully in the feature, those of us who are LGBT will be on the same level or even healthier than our heterosexual counterparts.

H/T: University of Washington

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