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Gay, bisexual adults more prone to smoke, alcohol abuse


New York: Lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) adults were more likely to indulge in heavy drinking and smoking as well as suffer from physical and mental health conditions, new research has found.

“Our study indicates that LGB adults experience significant health disparities – particularly in mental health and substance use, likely due to the minority stress that they experience as a result of their exposure to both interpersonal and structural discrimination,” said Gilbert Gonzales of Vanderbilt University in the US.

The findings showed that bisexual men showed highest prevalence of heavy drinking at 10.9 per cent compared with 5.7 per cent of heterosexual or 5.1 per cent of gay men.

Bisexual men were most like to be heavy smokers at 9.3 per cent compared with 6.0 per cent of heterosexual and 6.2 per cent of gay men.

Further, bisexual women had the heaviest alcohol consumption at 11.7 per cent compared with 8.9 per cent of lesbian and 4.8 per cent of heterosexual women.

Lesbian women at 5.2 per cent were more likely to be heavy smokers than 3.4 per cent of heterosexual and 4.2 per cent of bisexual women.

In addition, 16.9 per cent of heterosexual men suffered from moderate or severe psychological distress, and 25.9 per cent of gay men and 40.1 per cent of bisexual men showed distress.

Among heterosexual women 21.9 per cent showed symptoms of moderate and severe psychological distress compared with 28.4 per cent of lesbian and 46.4 per cent of bisexual women.

Lesbian women were more likely to report poor or fair health and multiple chronic conditions compared with heterosexual women, whereas bisexual women were more likely to report multiple chronic conditions than heterosexual women.

The highest prevalence and risk of psychological distress among bisexual adults may be associated with them being “marginalised” by the heterosexual population and experiencing “stigma” from gay and lesbian adults, leaving them with fewer connections in the sexual minority community, the authors noted.

As a first step toward eliminating sexual orientation-based health disparities, health care professionals need to be aware and mindful of the increased risk of impaired health, alcohol consumption and tobacco use among their LGB adult patients, suggested the paper published online by JAMA Internal Medicine.

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