SAN FRANCISCO — Gay and bi men are more likely to develop skin cancer than straight men, according to a new study, the Bay Area Reporter reports. The research also showed that bi women have a lower rate than straight women. A companion study revealed a higher skin cancer rate among gender-nonconforming people.
Although these studies were unable to evaluate specific risk factors, the researchers suggested that more frequent use of tanning beds by gay and bi men may play a role.
These results highlight the importance of including questions about sexual orientation and gender identity in health surveys, according to lead study author Dr. Arash Mostaghimi, a dermatologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
Mostaghimi and his team looked at links between sexual identity and gender identity and the lifetime prevalence of skin cancer in the United States, the Reporter reports.
Around 3.3 million people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year, making it by far the most common type of cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Although most skin cancer can be removed or treated, melanoma — which accounts for about 1 percent of all cases — can be deadly.
As described in the medical journal JAMA Dermatology, Mostaghimi’s first study analyzed data from 2014-2018 from approximately 351,000 straight men, 7,500 gay men, 5,000 bisexual men, 466,000 straight women, 9,400 bi women and 5,400 lesbians, the Reporter reports.
The researchers found that 8.1 percent of gay men and 8.4 percent of bi men reported that they had ever had skin cancer, both significantly higher than the 6.7 percent rate among straight men. After adjusting for other factors, gay men were 26 percent more likely and bi men were 48 percent more likely to have had skin cancer than straight men, the Reporter reports.
Among women, 6.6 percent of straight women, 5.9 percent of lesbians and 4.7 percent of bi women reported ever having skin cancer. Bi women were 22 percent less likely to have had skin cancer than straight women, the Reporter reports.