September 4, 2013 | by Staff reports
UK study tracks LGB smoking, alcohol use
smoking, youth, gay news, Washington Blade

Gay, lesbian and bisexual youth are more likely to smoke than their straight peers, a study found. (Photo by Velentin Ottone)

NEW YORK — LGB young people are twice as likely to have smoked as their straight peers, according to a new UK study published in the BMJ Open (an online medical journal) and reported by Health Canal.

Researchers from five UK universities along with a doctor and consultant from Public Health England looked at data from about 7,600 participants from a study dubbed “Young People in England,” which followed teens from the ages of 13 or 14 through the next five years. At the end of the period, when participants were either 18 or 19, they were asked their sexual orientation. LGBs were 3.5 percent of the sample group. Lesbian and gay participants were more likely to say they drank frequently (more than weekly) and report frequent intoxication. Bi participants were more likely to have smoked but had similar alcohol use to straight participants, Health Canal reported.

“From a public health perspective, we need to understand why young gay, lesbian and bisexual people are more likely to engage in risky health behaviors than their heterosexual peers,” said Dr. Gareth Hagger-Johnson, one of the researchers, in the Health Canal article. “This will need to involve longitudinal research, following a large sample of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people over time. We are concerned that ‘minority stress,’ resulting from homophobia and heterosexism, might lead people to self medicate symptoms of anxiety and depression with cigarettes and alcohol.”

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