Health: Cancer and Gay Men

There have been several articles in the past month reporting that gay men are 1.9 times more likely than straight men to have had cancer.

The news is based on collected health data from 7,252 adult women and 3,690 adult men who were diagnosed with cancer in 2001, 2003, and 2005 and was obtained from the California Health Interview Survey.

There are causes for the differences in the rates of cancer that need to be examined before any conclusions can be made regarding cancer risk and gay men.

Gay men in the united states are more likely to be HIV-positive, HIV-positive men are at a higher risk for anal, lung, testicular cancers and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Smoking is a huge factor in cancer risk, and according to several studies the prevalence of cigarette smoking among gay men is significantly higher than among heterosexuals. The risk for cancer may increase from lifestyle choices, such as smoking and can be related to health conditions such as HIV or a history of HPV but cancer is currently unpredictable in men, as some people with several risk factors never develop cancer, while others with no known risk factors do.

A distinction that was not made in most of the articles, is that risk for cancer has nothing to do with sexual orientation. Simply being gay does not increase your risk for cancer.

It is important to talk with your doctor about any risk factors you may have (smoking, family history, HIV status, history of HPV, Sunburns as a child, exposure to radiation) and ask your doctor questions about your risk of cancer.

Headlines making statements like; “Gay men twice as likely to report having cancer” are nothing more than…well, I will leave you to your own conclusions as to what those are.


There are 7 comments

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  1. sean

    every day bad news hiv cancer and more we are gay and we now that and thank you for give us some health id but we need good news and happy news ok bye

  2. terence

    too many factors in determining actual cause of cancer(s). and this was a small study. like all other studies, a few months later there will/can be different results.

  3. William

    I am 32, gay, and a 5 year cancer survivor. However, my cancer is linked to genetics not my sexual orientation. My mother feels awful knowing she is the reason I had cancer…according to my doctor.

  4. Jack

    another factor I learned the hard way is that hepatitis B is a major contributing factor towards liver cancer. Of course, so is hep C. All kinds of hepatitis are easily spread through unsafe sex.

  5. Phil. B

    Any study that is exclusive to gay men is going to have higher “risk factors” than a study involving all men, or just straight men. Any time you take a group and break it down into parts, the % risks get higher. it’s basic math. think of it this way, You have 100 men, and 1 of them has cancer, then you have a 1% rate of cancer in men, now take 10% of those men that are “allegedly gay” and that’s 10 men. and if 1 in those 10 men has cancer, its now 10% cancer in gay men. Now if that grouping that we had was 8 white men, 1 Asian, and 1 black man, and the 1 black man has cancer, then the study states that 100% of Gay black men will have cancer, because the study said so. Stop analyzing everyone by sub category. We have sub-categorized to death, and now we are looking for Sub-categories for our sub-categories. When will it end?

  6. Jason

    Most Gay men I know seem to drink a lot, worship the sun, eat really bad diets, and take medication for every little thing. None of this is healthy and I am sure it adds up to health issues such as cancer. The funny thing is all the straight men I know do the exact same thing!

  7. Jay

    being gay seems to make your more likely to get a specific type of anal HPV related cancer….that if you are conscientious of your body and take time to look for things out of whack AND dont get a shit doctor to treat you…can be treated…in an uncomfortable, not so intrusive manner.

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