UMN-Led Study Says Tanning Behaviors May Explain Greater Risk for Skin Cancer In Gay and Bisexual Men

Among the new study’s findings, gay and bisexual men are more likely to report indoor tanning and sunless tanning and are less likely to use protective clothing when outdoors in the sun.
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Naomi McDonald, Director of Communication
February 28, 2018

Gay and bisexual men show disproportionally higher rates of skin cancer and are more likely to participate in risky tanning behaviors, as compared with heterosexual men, according to new research published in JAMA Dermatology.

 The cross-sectional study analyzed data from 13,698 adult men, collected from the 2015 National Health Interview Surveys as conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The research follows up on a 2015 study that demonstrated higher rates of skin cancer in gay and bisexual men. Among the new study’s findings, gay and bisexual men are more likely to report indoor tanning and sunless tanning and are less likely to use protective clothing when outdoors in the sun.

 “These two studies together demonstrate that gay and bisexual men represent a high-risk population for skin cancer with unique risk behaviors that physicians and public health organizations can target to change,” says principal investigator Matthew Mansh, MD, a resident fellow in the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Department of Dermatology.

 Knowing this disproportionate risk, he adds, can improve the quality of care provided to sexual minorities and provides further justification for routinely collecting sexual orientation in clinical settings. “Almost all skin cancer-related behaviors are different in gay and bisexual men,” says Mansh. “Knowing that piece about an individual’s identity before a physician enters a patient’s room can be very helpful for both immediate risk stratification and to guide targeted behavioral counseling.”

 Read the full research letter in JAMA Dermatology, “Indoor Tanning, Sunless Tanning, and Sun-Protection Behaviors Among Sexual Minority Men.”

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