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HomeGeneralAmerican Cancer Society Says Discrimination Increases Cancer Risk in LGBTQ+ People

American Cancer Society Says Discrimination Increases Cancer Risk in LGBTQ+ People

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The American Cancer Society says discrimination against LGBTQ+ people can prevent them from seeking healthcare and worsen their well-being. Hence, the organization says it will create factors that make them more at risk of developing cancer. In a newly released first-of-its-kind study, the leading cancer research organization outlined several risk factors.

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It also explained how LGBTQ+ individuals face an “elevated prevalence” of specific risk factors linked to the disease. In its 2024 Cancer Facts and Figures report, the organization noted that queer people frequently experience “minority stress” in healthcare settings.

According to the study, there are certain “minority stress” factors associated with LGBTQ+ individuals. They include smoking, excess body weight, HIV, and access to gender transition surgical procedures. However, the study noted that they exacerbate their vulnerability to developing cancer.

The organization added that overt prejudice, discrimination, and internalized homophobia from healthcare providers discourage LGBTQ+ people from seeking care. Also, it may lead to increased substance use disorders and unhealthy behaviors that increase cancer risk.

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ALSO READ: LGBTQ+ Members Advocate for “Stripper’s Bill of Rights” to End Police Raid on Gay Bars

“Perhaps the greatest health disparity faced by LGBTQ+ communities is the presumption-of-care gap,” the report said. “Which is the fear that a provider will refuse care due to gender identity or sexual orientation.” According to the 84-page report, there are currently nine states where healthcare providers can refuse to care for LGBTQ+ patients.

These patients encompass an estimated 20 percent of the U.S. LGBTQ+ population. In addition, the report found that LGBTQ+ cancer survivors face more discrimination and suffer heavy substance use. Compared to the general public, the study claims they are more likely to have poor physical and mental health.

POLL—Should Laws Be Enacted To Protect LGBTQ+ Individuals From Workplace Discrimination?

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Also, it says they “frequently experience homophobia and discomfort expressed by health care providers.” “More than half of LGBTQ+ adults have experienced harassment, including slurs, microaggressions, sexual harassment, and violence,” the report notes. 

“1 in 3 have experienced discrimination simply trying to use the bathroom.” The report added, “This discrimination is most common among people of color and extends to health care settings.” Besides the apparent effects of discrimination against LGBTQ+ people, the report also noted other risk factors.

It noted that overweight lesbians and bisexual women are at a greater risk for 12 different types of cancer. These include uterine, pancreatic, and breast. Similarly, gay men are also more likely to get preventative screenings for colorectal cancer. It noted the percentage of gay men getting screened as 67% compared to 58% of straight men.

ALSO READ: Advocacy Group Calls for Oklahoma Education Superintendent Removal Over Anti-LGBTQ Rhetoric

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Notably, the report states that “everyone is at risk” of developing cancer. However, it says 88% of people diagnosed in the U.S. are older than 50, and 57% are 65 and older. The American Cancer Society’s report also noted that certain behaviors significantly increase the risk of cancer. 

They include “smoking, having excess body weight, drinking alcohol, and eating an unhealthy diet.” The study comes as other medical groups have recently taken steps to be more “inclusive” of the LGBTQ+ community. Advocates nationwide are pushing for widespread access to sex changes and hormone therapy for transgender people. 

The American Psychological Association (APA) announced a new policy earlier this month. It urged clinics to provide “unobstructed access” to gender-transitioning treatments for children.

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