Bisexual, lesbian women die earlier than heterosexual women

May 1, 2024 – Sexual minority women—those who identify as bisexual or lesbian—die earlier compared to heterosexual women, according to a study by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and collaborating institutions.

The study, published in the journal JAMA, was featured in an April 25 Medical Xpress article.

The researchers analyzed data from the Nurses’ Health Study II, a cohort of over 100,000 female nurses, linking sexual orientation data with nearly 30 years of death records. They found that, on average, sexual minority women died 26% sooner than heterosexual women. Stratifying results by sexual orientation subgroup, the researchers found that bisexual women died 37% sooner and lesbian women died 20% sooner.

Sarah McKetta, postdoctoral research fellow and lead author of the study, explained that LGBTQ people experience stigma, prejudice, and discrimination that result in chronic stress and unhealthy coping mechanisms, making the population vulnerable to worse health and premature mortality.

“The sexual orientation–related inequities in mortality highlight the urgent need to address preventable causes, particularly given the increasingly hostile policy climate for LGBTQ people in the U.S.,” she added.

Brittany Charlton, senior author of the study and associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology, commented on the more pronounced premature mortality rate among bisexual women, calling it troubling. “Bisexual women face distinct stressors from outside, as well as within, the LGBTQ community that are rooted in biphobia,” she noted. “Additionally, bisexual people are often excluded from various communities because they’re assumed to be straight or gay based on their partner’s gender.”

Other Harvard Chan School co-authors of the study were Landon Hughes, Sebastien Haneuse, and Bryn Austin.

Read the Medical Xpress article: Premature mortality higher among sexual minority women, study finds

– Jay Lau

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