Gay Men More Likely to Have Survived Cancer

A new article in the journal Cancer finds that gay men are nearly twice as likely to report being cancer survivors than straight men are. However, sexual orientation is not part of cancer surveillance information, so researchers relied on self-reported health from the California Health Interview survey. As a result, it is still unclear why there are a disproportionately high number of gay cancer survivors. Either gay men are more likely to develop cancer in the first place (as some media headlines have seemed to suggest) or they are more likely to survive a cancer diagnosis. The BBC explains that "further research would be needed to determine if homosexual men were actually getting more tumors or had greater survival rates." The authors of the study, however, seem to lean towards the idea that gay men are more likely to get cancer than straight men (or than lesbian women, who have no significantly higher rate of cancer than straight women). The article notes that HIV infection -- substantially higher in gay men -- can lead to increased susceptibility to cancer and that HPV infection -- also high in gay men -- can lead to anal cancer.

Among those men who did survive cancer, there was no statistically significant difference in self-reported health between homosexual men and heterosexual men. However, bisexual women were 2.0-2.3 times more likely to report poor or fair health than heterosexual women.

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