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Study Suggests Lesbian and Bisexual Women Face Higher Mortality Rates

Recent research analyzing decades of data on women has raised concerns about the potential impact of sexual orientation on lifespan. The findings, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, indicate that lesbian and bisexual women may face significantly shorter lifespans compared to their heterosexual counterparts.

The study, drawing from the Nurses’ Health Study II initiated in 1989 to track chronic disease risk factors among women, revealed startling statistics. Compared to heterosexual women, lesbian women were found to die 20% sooner, while bisexual women faced a staggering 37% higher mortality rate.

Lead author Sarah McKetta, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School, highlighted the significance of the study's ability to separate bisexual and lesbian participants, providing unique insights into their respective risks. McKetta underscored the unexpected magnitude of the mortality disparities observed, attributing them primarily to discrimination.

While previous research has extensively explored the higher prevalence of mental health issues and chronic diseases among LGBTQ individuals, the correlation with mortality rates has received less attention. McKetta emphasized the systemic health disparities faced by LGBTQ women, driven by discrimination across various spheres of life.

The study unearthed a twofold prevalence of alcohol and tobacco use, along with elevated risks for breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, and depression among lesbian and bisexual participants. These disparities, McKetta concluded, are largely preventable and stem from pervasive discrimination, manifesting in detrimental behaviors and health outcomes.

McKetta highlighted the heightened vulnerability of bisexual women, who face dual pressures and discrimination both within and outside queer communities. She expressed hope that the study's findings would catalyze efforts to address discrimination and improve health outcomes for LGBTQ individuals, particularly lesbian and bisexual women.

Despite the grim reality portrayed by the study, McKetta emphasized that it is not sexuality itself but rather discrimination that poses a significant threat to the health and well-being of LGBTQ individuals. She stressed the importance of fostering a more inclusive and supportive environment to ensure that future generations do not endure the same disparities and shortened lifespans as their predecessors

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