Study: Lesbian, bisexual women at greater risk for type 2 diabetes
A study published in Diabetes Care shows that lesbian and bisexual (LB) women have a greater likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes (T2D) than their heterosexual counterparts. The researchers found that stress, along with a higher body mass index (BMI), may be the primary contributing factors to the disparity.
The study included women participating in the Nurses’ Health Study II who were aged 24 to 44 at the start of the study in 1989. The participants were prospectively followed through 2013. Self-reported clinician diagnosis of T2D was assessed every other year to identify incidence. The participants self-reported sexual orientation; 1267 identified as lesbian or bisexual and 92,983 reported as heterosexual.
The researchers found that LB women had a 27% higher risk of developing T2D than heterosexual women (adjusted incidence rate ratio [IRR] 1.27, 95% CI 1.05—1.54). At the end of the study, 6399 women had developed T2D with lesbian and bisexual women having a 22% greater risk of the disease. In addition, differences between LB and heterosexual women in risk of diabetes were greater at younger ages (sexual orientation-by-age interaction, P < 0.001). A higher BMI was an important factor contributing to the identified disparities; the IRR was completely attenuated when BMI was added to the regression model (IRR 0.85, 95% CI 0.70—1.03).
The researchers believe that disparities between LB and heterosexual women may be a result of LB women being more likely to have risk factors such as obesity, tobacco smoking, heavy alcohol drinking, and stress-related exposures. Stress could be related to discrimination, violence, victimization and psychological distress, which were reportedly higher for LB women. The researchers believe that public health and clinical efforts should be made to prevent, detect, and manage obesity and T2D among LB and more research is needed on disease management and on the overall health of lesbian and bisexual women.