Details of Publication 704 for Project A349:

Brown R, McNair R, Szalacha L, Livingston P & Hughes T. Cancer risk factors, diagnosis and sexual identity in the Australian Longitudinal Study of Women's Health. Women's Health Issues, 2015; 25(5): 509-516

Purpose: We sought to examine cancer diagnosis, cancer treatment, and related risk factors among Australian, middleaged, exclusively heterosexual women compared with sexual minority women (SMW; mainly heterosexual, bisexual, mainly lesbian, and lesbian).Methods: Secondary data analysis of the Australian Longitudinal Study of Women’s Health for women born in 1946 through 1951 (n ¼ 10,451) included bivariate tests (i.e., contingency table analyses, independent t tests).Results: SMW did not have significantly higher cancer diagnoses compared with exclusively heterosexual women, although they were more likely to report never having had a mammogram or pap smear. SMW were also significantly more likely to be high-risk drinkers (11.1% vs. 6.8%; p < .05), current smokers (15.1% vs. 8.3%; p < .001), report significantly higher rates of depression (mean SD; 6.4 5.5 vs. 5.4 5.1; p < .01.), have experienced physical abus(10.2% vs. 5.1%; p < .001), and been in a violent relationship (27.2% vs. 12.8%; p < .001).Conclusion: SMW had higher rates of several known cancer risk factors, ostensibly placing them at higher risk of cancer as well as chronic health conditions. Further research is needed to determine whether increased risk results in increased cancer as these women age, and to inform the development of interventions to reduce the risk of disease for SMW.