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Am J Public Health. 2014 Feb;104(2):245-54. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301506. Epub 2013 Dec 12.

Sexual orientation disparities in cancer-related risk behaviors of tobacco, alcohol, sexual behaviors, and diet and physical activity: pooled Youth Risk Behavior Surveys.

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Margaret Rosario is with the Department of Psychology, City College and Graduate Center, City University of New York. Heather L. Corliss and S. Bryn Austin are with the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA. Bethany G. Everett is with the Department of Sociology, University of Illinois at Chicago. Sari L. Reisner is with the Fenway Institute, Boston. Francisco O. Buchting is with Buchting Consulting, Oakland, CA. Michelle Birkett is with the Department of Medical Social Sciences, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago.



We examined sexual orientation disparities in cancer-related risk behaviors among adolescents.


We pooled data from the 2005 and 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Surveys. We classified youths with any same-sex orientation as sexual minority and the remainder as heterosexual. We compared the groups on risk behaviors and stratified by gender, age (< 15 years and > 14 years), and race/ethnicity.


Sexual minorities (7.6% of the sample) reported more risk behaviors than heterosexuals for all 12 behaviors (mean = 5.3 vs 3.8; P < .001) and for each risk behavior: odds ratios (ORs) ranged from 1.3 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.2, 1.4) to 4.0 (95% CI = 3.6, 4.7), except for a diet low in fruit and vegetables (OR = 0.7; 95% CI = 0.5, 0.8). We found sexual orientation disparities in analyses by gender, followed by age, and then race/ethnicity; they persisted in analyses by gender, age, and race/ethnicity, although findings were nuanced.


Data on cancer risk, morbidity, and mortality by sexual orientation are needed to track the potential but unknown burden of cancer among sexual minorities.

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