Online Program

Sexual-orientation disparities in frequent engagement in cancer-related risk behaviors over time

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 : 9:09 a.m. - 9:22 a.m.

Margaret Rosario, PhD, Department of Psychology, The City University of New York - City College and Graduate Center, New York, NY
Fei LI, MS, Department of Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA
David Wypij, PhD, Department of Biostatistics, Harvard Shool of Public Health, Boston, MA
Andrea Roberts, PhD, Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Heather Corliss, M.P.H, Ph.D, Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA
Brittany Charlton, ScD, Harvard Medical School and Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA
A. Lindsay Frazier, MD, ScM, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
S. Bryn Austin, ScD, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Objectives. The likelihood of cancer morbidity increases with frequent exposure over time to a known carcinogen or cancer-related risk behavior. We examined sexual-orientation disparities in frequent engagement in cancer-related risk behaviors of tobacco, alcohol, diet and physical activity, ultraviolet radiation, and sexually transmitted infections.

Methods. We used longitudinal data spanning 11 years from the Growing Up Today Study. Of the analytic sample (N=9,958), 1.8% identified as lesbian/gay (LG), 1.6% bisexual (BI), 12.1% mostly heterosexual (MH), and 84.5% completely heterosexual (CH) in 2010.

Results. More sexual minorities (LG, BI, and MH) frequently engaged in multiple cancer-related risk behaviors than did CH. Sex stratified repeated measures analyses, adjusting for age and ethnicity/race, found disparities in frequent engagement over time in substance use and diet and physical activity risk for sexual-minority women relative to CH women. These group-level analyses found that gay young men relative to CH men reported frequent engagement in vomiting food, physical inactivity, and use of tanning booths, and a higher prevalence of ever having an STI. Individual analyses of persistence over time in frequent engagement were generally comparable to the group-level analyses.

Conclusions. Sexual minorities are likely at risk for long-term poor health outcomes, such as cancer, given their frequent engagement in cancer-related risk behaviors over time. Therefore, data on sexual orientation-disparities in cancer-related morbidity and mortality are needed, as are interventions to reduce the potential burden of cancer in sexual minorities.

Learning Areas:

Chronic disease management and prevention
Diversity and culture
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Discuss a need for sensitivity to potential elevated cancer morbidity among sexual minorities relative to heterosexuals. Demonstrate sexual-orientation disparities in cancer-related risk behaviors.

Keyword(s): Cancer Prevention and Screening, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT)

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been a principal, co-principal, or co-investigator on multiple federally funded grants focusing on understanding health disparities particularly, but not exclusively, among sexual minorities. I have many publications in peer-reviewed journals, including AJPH, on sexual-orientation health disparities.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.