US research reveals higher cancer rate among gay men

Fri, 13 May 2011

Homosexual men are nearly twice as likely to have suffered from cancer as heterosexual men, according to a new study from the US.

The study, which was based on more than 120,000 people in California, also indicated that cancer was diagnosed on average a decade earlier for gay men.

However, researchers did not find a difference in cancer cases between lesbians and heterosexual women.

HIV

The study did not examine the causes behind the results. But Dr Ulrike Boehmer, the study’s lead author, cautioned that higher rates of HIV amongst homosexual men may be related to the increased risk of cancer.

And commenting on the results Jason Warriner, clinical director for HIV and sexual health at the Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “We know that HIV can cause certain types of cancer, and that gay men are a greater risk of HIV than straight men.”

HIV and Aids have both been linked to a number of cancers including anal, lung and testicular cancer and Hodgkin lymphoma.

Cancer

However Liz Margolie, executive director of the LGBT Cancer Network, said that homosexual “men as a group have a bunch of risk factors for cancer”, including higher rates of smoking and alcohol abuse.

Jessica Harris, senior health information officer at Cancer Research UK, said: “In this Californian survey, gay men were more likely than straight men to say they had been diagnosed with cancer, but it’s not clear from this study why this might be.

“It could be down to better survival or higher rates of cancer among gay men and we’d need larger studies that take both of these factors into account to find out.”

Sex

In March new figures from the Health Protection Agency revealed that the number of new HIV diagnoses had nearly doubled over the past ten years.

Experts warned that numbers are increasing “especially in men who have sex with men” (MSM).

In total 1,950 new HIV infections were diagnosed in 2001 and 3,780 in 2010. The number of new diagnoses among MSM increased by 70 per cent from 1,810 to 3,080.

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