Gay and bisexual women may be more at risk of type 2 diabetes, study suggests

Jack Woodfield
Mon, 14 May 2018
Gay and bisexual women may be more at risk of type 2 diabetes, study suggests
The risk of developing type 2 diabetes could be higher among lesbian and bisexual women, according to a new study.

Scientists from San Diego State University's Graduate School of Public Health in California report that lesbian and bisexual women were 27% more likely to develop the condition following a new 24-year study.

While lifestyle choices and eating habits are most commonly linked with type 2 diabetes risk, genetics, family history and environment are too known to be risk factors, and this study raises interesting findings regarding sexuality and its relationship with type 2.

However, the findings indicate only an association, and nothing causal, meaning further research will be required to investigate this link in greater detail.

The study involved an analysis of 94,250 women who had taken part in the Nurses' Health Study II. A total of 1,267 identified as lesbian or bisexual. All the women were clinically reviewed for type 2 diabetes every two years between 1989-2013.

Gay and bisexual women tended to develop type 2 diabetes earlier than heterosexual women, and having a higher BMI mediated these findings.

Stress was hypothesised as a salient factor as to why the 27% increased risk may have been occurred, with the researchers explaining that "[lesbian and bisexual] women may have disparities in chronic physical health conditions because [of] stress-related exposures".

The researchers also suggested that discrimination and psychological distress could negatively impact these women's health, increasing the risk of health problems.

They concluded: "Although it is important to address behavioural factors such as physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and dietary intake, focusing on these factors alone may not be sufficient to eliminate [lesbian and bisexual] women's disparities in chronic disease.

"Public health and clinical efforts to prevent, detect, and manage obesity and type 2 diabetes among LB women are warranted."

The results have been published online in Diabetes Care.
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