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Study: Shorter life expectancy for gays living in high prejudice communities

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

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Gays, lesbians and bisexual individuals living in communities with high levels of anti-gay prejudice have a shorter life expectancy of 12 years on average compared with their peers in the least prejudiced communities, according to a study from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

Researchers say it is the first study to look at the consequences of anti-gay prejudice for mortality.

“The results of this study suggest a broadening of the consequences of prejudice to include premature death,” noted the study’s lead author, Mark Hatzenbuehler, PhD, assistant professor of Sociomedical Sciences.

“Our findings indicate that sexual minorities living in communities with higher levels of prejudice die sooner than sexual minorities living in low-prejudice communities, and that these effects are independent of established risk factors for mortality, including household income, education, gender, ethnicity, and age, as well as the average income and education level of residents in the communities where the respondents lived,” said Hatzenbuehler, in a statement.

“In fact, our results for prejudice were comparable to life expectancy differences that have been observed between individuals with and without a high school education,” he said.

The authors also found that suicide, homicide/violence, and cardiovascular diseases were all substantially elevated among sexual minorities in high-prejudice communities.

LGB respondents living in high-prejudice communities died of suicide on average at age 37.5, compared to age 55.7 for those living in low-prejudice communities, a striking 18-year difference.

The study noted that homicide and violence-related deaths are one of the most direct links between hostile community attitudes and death, and results indicated that homicide rates were over three times more likely to occur in high-prejudice communities than in low-prejudice communities.

Of the deaths in high-prejudice communities, 25% were due to cardiovascular disease, compared to 18.6% of deaths in the low-prejudice communities.

“Psychosocial stressors are strongly linked to cardiovascular risk, and this kind of stress may represent an indirect pathway through which prejudice contributes to mortality. Discrimination, prejudice, and social marginalization create several unique demands on stigmatized individuals that are stress-inducing,” said Hatzenbuehler.

The study is also remarkable not just in its conclusions but also in its methods, particularly in the way it quantifies prejudice within a community. As “Dr. Hatzenbuehler points out, the community-level measure of prejudice does not rely on sexual minorities’ perceptions of how stigmatizing their communities are, but rather was based on the prejudicial attitudes of all respondents living in that community.”

The study is online in the journal Social Science & Medicine.

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43 more reader comments:

  1. well gee, there’s a shock

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 4:25pm
  2. No kidding

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 4:26pm
  3. Well that’s kinda like saying that water with ice in it is cold

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 4:26pm
  4. NO SHIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hate sucks!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 4:27pm
  5. Ya think? There’s no stress like the day-to-day thought that you might be murdered just for being yourself. That alone shave years off someone’s life.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 4:28pm
  6. it’s the homophobes who should have a shorter life expectancy

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 4:29pm
  7. this made me laugh your right lmfao.

    Replied on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 4:50pm
  8. I bet they do! All that anger and hate for other humans...

    Replied on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 4:59pm
  9. This is so sad. Does anyone wondered how much the LGBT community contributes to society? Things would be different if they do.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 4:30pm
  10. Makes sense. Stress.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 4:31pm
  11. They did a study? I would think this a given. Higher rates of depression, suicide, violent assaults. Why waste money on the incredibly obvious?

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 4:31pm
  12. should give this study money to low income GLBT people all over the country, or to move those GLBT in bigoted areas out of those areas.

    Replied on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 5:22pm
  13. Important info for the ignorant!

    Replied on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 5:32pm
  14. The problem, Peggy Harris, is that the ignorant won't read this study!

    Replied on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 5:54pm
  15. I am sure this is also true for our work environments. This should not be some huge epiphany.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 4:31pm
  16. That’s why this bs needs to cease !!! Like yesterday !!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 4:31pm
  17. thats because dipshits kill them

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 4:33pm
  18. They needed a study on this? ? How about spending that money protecting gays and educating homophobes instead

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 4:34pm
  19. Ya think…

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 4:34pm
  20. A study brought to you by ‘we’re a bit thick and can’t work things out society’ please give generously! They haven’t got a clue :-)

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 4:38pm
  21. The problem with this has always been evident to me as a gay man who lives in rural southern Georgia (not Atlanta) and studied rural issues. The problem is that without a community many gay men are left to flounder on their own. What bothers me even more is you have gay men who have left rural places to move to major cities who never contribute back to their hometowns. They bury that part of their lives because it was the most oppressive part! Well when you neglect to do something in your own backyard you are leaving young gays to flounder and face all manner of homophobia!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 4:45pm
  22. Stress is deadly? What!?

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 4:46pm
  23. Why am I not surprised. Its so much to deal with

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 4:47pm
  24. Without an legitimate study, there is no solid evidence showing that this may be true. “I feel like” doesn’t hold up to lawmaking and change. “This study shows” can hold up to lawmaking and change. Well done studies are important. (I did not look into this far enough to tell whether it was well done or not, but I’m going to assume so considering it’s Columbia.)

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 4:49pm
  25. In order for “certain” individuals to really believe something they need evidence via a study or some other method involving money and time to feel the point has been proven. I think it was a good read for the person who is totally unaware. Hey, maybe some jerk may think twice before calling some LGBT person a derogatory name. :)

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 4:49pm
  26. Well, duh!!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 4:51pm
  27. Ya think?! Lol!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 4:53pm
  28. Well, duh, stress kills…

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 4:54pm
  29. Really? sounds like crap to me

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 4:57pm
  30. Really? Do you really mean that people being threatened, denied opportunities, harassed, treated like sh*t all of the time… tend to live shorter lives? Really?! Like any LGBT that’s ever been abused can ever tell you. Der!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 4:59pm
  31. No brainer

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 5:03pm
  32. Discrimination kills!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 5:05pm
  33. coincidentally or not, Poor gays live in higher prejudiced areas. maybe it not the prejudice but the poorness that is the defining factor?

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 5:21pm
  34. :(

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 5:32pm
  35. Ummm, could that fact be any more obvious?

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 5:35pm
  36. Diana TackyChic Burch

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 5:51pm
  37. Stress kills take from a cancer and heart attack survivor…out and proud but boy its rufffff

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 5:53pm
  38. :’(

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 6:11pm
  39. No shit..I’m totally unfollowing this page

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 6:12pm
  40. Are you suprised – I can’t believe I’ve got to nearly 64 after all the early years of hassle and how anyone survives Russia, Nigeria and Uganda, to name a few, I reckon the gays need medals.

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 6:15pm
  41. Agreed, Chris V.!

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 6:37pm
  42. Thank you captain obvious

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 7:21pm
  43. they needed to do a study for that?

    Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 at 7:42pm