Lesbians & bisexual women have elevated risk for type 2 diabetes

Doctor making blood sugar test in clinic for diabetes.

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A new study from San Diego State University points to an elevated risk for lesbian and bisexual women of developing type 2 diabetes at a young age due to stress. Lesbian and bisexual women in the study had a 27% higher likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes than their straight counterparts.

What’s more, findings show that these women may have a higher body mass index than straight women, which may contribute to the issue — but researches were cautious to point to the usual expectations of diet and exercise as a cure-all.

“Although it is important to address behavioral factors such as physical activity, sedentary behavior and dietary intake, focusing on these factors alone may not be sufficient to eliminate [lesbian and bisexual] women’s disparities in chronic disease,” said the paper.

One of the bigger factors the researchers pointed to was stress, including increased stress surrounding discrimination, concerns surrounding violence, and similar factors.

“It’s been known in the public health community that individuals with minority social statuses and individuals with stigma-based identities are at increased risk for having health disparities,” said Heather L. Corliss, the lead researcher of this study.

The issue of minority stress has been a growing issue in recent studies. In these case, minority stress refers to a model that describes how stigmatized minority groups can face high levels of stress due to prejudice and discrimination as well as poor social support, socioeconomic status, and other causes.

The research included 94,250 women with type 2 diabetes from across the United States, and included 1,267 women who identified as bisexual or lesbian. Participants were age 22-44.

The researchers hope that their work will lead to an increase in care for lesbian and bisexual women, as well as further research on the effects of sexual orientation-related differences in disease management on the health of bisexual and lesbian women.

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