STUDY: Health Risks High For LGBT People

There has long been a sense that LGBT people face greater health risks than their heterosexual counterparts, and studies over the years have pointed to this. But a recent review by the Williams Institute at UCLA shows the big picture for what LGBT people face.
According to the Institute's report, "Minority Stress and Physical Health Among Sexual Minorities" by David J. Lick, Laura E. Durso, Kerri L. Johnson, LGB individuals face increased risk and incidents of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, allergies, chronic gastro-intestinal problems, diabetes and more.
"Our review is the first to bring together social and basic science research to demonstrate the truly negative impact that anti-gay stigma can have on the physical health of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people," co-author Durso said.
The studies also show that the cause of these problems is not simply because someone is gay, but because LGBT people face discrimination, economic barriers, struggles obtaining health insurance and overall stress in general.
The study points to one large factor for the LGBT population. Most health providers do not ask about sexual orientation or gender identity, nor are they trained in the unique health care needs of LGBT people or the health disparities they experience. Many LGBT patients are not "out" to their providers; as a result, they are not screened for issues that may disproportionately affect LGBT people.
"The review demonstrates that disparities in LGBT physical health are quite real, and that more research is critical for understanding how to address such negative health outcomes for all Americans," co-author Lick said


Here in Michigan, LGBT organizations know the importance of providing good health information to the gay community. KICK, a Detroit-based organization that primarily serves the LGBT African American community, is hosting their Annual Health and Wellness Expo on Nov. 16 at their headquarters at 41 Burroughs Ste. 109 in Detroit. The Expo runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is free. Everyone is welcome, and there will be information on a variety of health topics including HIV/AIDS, diabetes, heart disease, mental health, domestic violence and smoking cessation.
The leading causes of African American deaths are heart disease, cancer and stroke," said Curtis Lipscomb, KICK's executive director. "Safe spaces such as the Health & Wellness Expo are essential to address our larger health issues in addition to HIV and mental health within the communities of LGBT people."
For more on the KICK Health and Wellness Expo, go to

Study Highlights

Some of the studies included in the review show the health disparities that sexual minorities face:
* Higher prevalence and earlier onset of disabilities, such as use of a walking assistant (Conron, Mimiaga, & Landers, 2010; Fredriksen-Goldsen, Kim, & Barkan, 2012; Kim & Fredriksen-Goldsen, 2012)
* Higher rates of asthma (Conron, Mimiaga, & Landers, 2010; Landers, Mimiaga, & Conron, 2011)
* Higher rates of allergies (Lock & Steiner, 1999)
* Higher rates of osteoarthritis and chronic gastro-intestinal problems (Sandfort, Bakker, Schellevis, & Vanwesenbeeck, 2006)

Compared to heterosexuals, lesbian and bisexual women exhibit:
* Heightened risk of some cancers, especially breast cancer (Brown & Tracy, 2008; Dibble, Roberts, & Nussey, 2004; Kavanaugh-Lunch, White, Daling, & Bowen, 2002)
* Heightened risk for (Case, Austin, Hunter, Manson, Malspeis, Willett, & Spiegelman, 2004; Conron, Mimiaga, & Landers, 2010) and diagnoses of (Diamant & Wold, 2003) cardiovascular disease

Compared to heterosexuals, gay and bisexual men exhibit:
* Heightened risk for cardiovascular disease (Wang, Hausermann, Counatsou, Aggleton, & Weiss, 2007)
* Greater disability and activity limitations due to debilitating physical conditions (Wang, Hausermann, Counatsou, Aggleton, & Weiss, 2007)
* More migraine headaches and urinary incontinence (Sandfort, Bakker, Schellevis, & Vanwesenbeeck, 2006)

To read the full Williams Institute Report visit

For more on the KICK Health and Wellness Expo, go to


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