Lesbians more likely to drink, smoke and take drugs

Australian study finds lesbian and bisexual women are less likely to have a cervical smear

Lesbians more likely to drink, smoke and take drugs
22 August 2012

Lesbians are more likely to binge drink and take drugs, according to a new study in Australia.

In the survey of almost 900 women, Western Australia’s Curtin University found that lesbian and bisexual women use legal and illegal drugs more than the general population.

Drinking was also found to be higher. While 86% of the sample reported they drank alcohol, which is similar to the broader population, levels of risky drinking were higher.

Almost half of the respondents indicated they drank more than the National Health Medical Research Council guidelines recommended to reduce the lifetime risk of alcohol related disease or injury.

Nearly one third drank at levels considered risky on a single drinking occasion, also known as ‘binge drinking’.

Jude Comfort from the Western Australia Centre for Health Promotion Research (WACHPR) said some of the key findings could surprise or alarm the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community.

‘The findings all help in building a picture of the community and provide direction to work with this community to improve their health,’ she said.

Comfort added: ‘Smoking rates that are twice the national average are a huge concern especially as tobacco smoking is the single most preventable cause of ill health and death in Australia.’

Worryingly, lesbian and bisexual women also appeared reluctant to have a cervical smear, with 27% of respondents saying they have never had one and 8% claiming they had the procedure over three years ago.

Comfort said: ‘This is an important screening tool for cervical cancer. The numbers suggest a poor understanding that lesbians need pap smears.’

The survey also showed 35% of women reported they had experienced some kind of anti-gay behavior in the preceding year.

‘More than 20% had experienced domestic violence with a female partner, an issue that is rarely discussed in the community,’ Comfort said.

She added the lack of health promotion, prevention and intervention programs specifically addressing these and other health issues for lesbian and bisexual women was disappointing.

‘While health promotion has made significant gains in some issues at the broader community level it appears these messages have been less successful in achieving positive health behaviour in this group of women,’ she said.

The research findings from Perth are supported by similar work carried out in Sydney and elsewhere in the world.

‘We hope that this study will provide important guidance to future public health programs targeting the lesbian and bisexual women’s population. They also provide direction for further research to better understand the preventative health needs of this group,’ she said.

A copy of the full report can be found here.

HAVE YOUR SAY

MORE TOP STORIES

No thumbnail available

Award winning chef Anthony Bourdain records message supporting same-sex marriage

'A common thread of the people I admire – whoever they are, wherever they are – are people who are proud and do things with love, and feel a sense of responsibility to others'
No thumbnail available

Anti-gay Jamaican singer axed from US concert

Jamaican reggae artist Queen Ifrica has been removed from a concert line-up in New York after a protest against her homophobic lyrics
No thumbnail available

Stars talk to Gay Star News about bullying and how 'It Gets Better'

Pauley Perrette, Dot Jones, Greg Louganis and Dave Koz lend their support to musical inspired by anti-bullying effort
No thumbnail available

Homophobic mother's response to kid's birthday invite a hoax

New York-area radio hosts apologize for fabricating story about a pair of gay dads who were chastized over young daughter's birthday party invitation
My gay Berlin: Adam Groffman on Germany's hippest city

My gay Berlin: Adam Groffman on Germany's hippest city

The Travels of Adam blogger on life in the German capital
No thumbnail available

Fox News commentator Charles Krauthammer calls gay rights struggle ‘heroic’

Fox News regular Charles Krauthammer has called the LGBTI community’s fight for equal treatment heroic but says they should be more tolerant of religious gay marriage opponents as that was President Obama’s position on the issue only a few years ago
No thumbnail available

Australian Rugby Union to display gay Bingham Cup in national trophy case

The Australian Rugby Union football code will display the global gay rugby Bingham Cup in its trophy case alongside other international trophies held by Australia – becoming the first Australian sporting code to do so
No thumbnail available

Congressman Aaron Schock says it's 'ridiculous and inappropriate' to ask if he is gay

Illinois lawmaker has gained national attention for his chisled physique
No thumbnail available

Love without censorship

Internet-released short films, that by-pass the censors, are all the rage in China right now. We talk to the director of one of the most popular 'mini-films' that happens to have a gay storyline
No thumbnail available

During last week on air, David Letterman ridicules Jeb Bush's opposition to gay marriage

'He certainly is a different kind of Republican, isn't he?'