A person's sexual orientation apparently influences his or her behavior and lifestyle practices that could impact his health. A federal study found that gays, lesbians and bisexuals are more likely to engage in certain behaviors that make them more vulnerable to certain health problems compared with their straight counterparts.
A new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on July 15, revealed the results of the 2013 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), which for the first time looked at the population of gays, lesbians and bisexuals in the U.S. and aimed to assess the health care service utilization, health-related behaviors, health conditions and access to health care by sexual orientation.
Of the 34,557 individuals 18 years old and above who participated in the multipurpose health survey, 1.6 percent identified themselves as gay or lesbian, 0.7 percent said they were bisexual and 96.6 percent claimed to be straight.
The researchers found that gays, lesbians and bisexuals tend to smoke and drink more excessively than heterosexuals and these risky behaviors are known to up risks for certain health problems including lung cancer, cirrhosis and heart disease.
Of the participants, 27.2 percent of those who identified themselves as gay or lesbian and 29.5 percent of bisexuals were current cigarette smokers compared with 19.6 percent of the participants who identified themselves as straight.
A little more than 35 percent of the gays and lesbians and 41.5 percent of the bisexuals, on the other hand, reported that they had five or more alcoholic drinks in one day for at least once in the past year while only 26 percent of the heterosexuals did. The researchers also observed that a higher percentage of bisexual women experienced serious psychological distress compared with their straight counterparts.
"Seeking to address those and other health disparities, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Healthy People 2020 initiative includes the goal of improving the health, safety, and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons," the report by Brian Ward, from the Division of Health Interview Statistics, and colleagues reads.
While homosexuals were found to engage more in behaviours that could jeopardize their health, the researchers likewise observed that there are also health-related practices that gays, lesbians and bisexuals tend to engage in compared with their straight counterparts. Homosexuals, for instance, are more likely to exercise regularly, get tested for HIV and avail of flu vaccinations. They are also less obese compared with their straight peers.