Breast cancer risk factors in a sexual minority population: an examination of the 2014 and 2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
This study is a secondary data analysis of the 2014 and 2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). Using a sample of 3,082 respondents, in three racial categories- White, African American, and Hispanic, this study examined sexual orientation and breast cancer risk factors. The sample size included 1,544 randomly selected heterosexual and 1,534 self-identified lesbians. The overall aim of this study is to explore behavioral and non-behavioral/demographic breast cancer risk factor differences between heterosexual women and lesbians. Chi-square analysis revealed significant demographic differences between heterosexual women and lesbians in age, educational attainment, employment status, household income, and having health insurance. Race was not found to be significant. Analysis of behavioral factors also indicated higher rates of alcohol consumption and tobacco use, lower mammogram use, and lower fruit intake in the lesbian population compared to heterosexual women. Physical activity, obesity, and diet-vegetable intake were not significantly different between the two populations. Loglinear analysis indicated that the introduction of race when examining these significant demographic non-behavioral and behavioral findings, had little effect on previous chi-square analysis findings. Sexual orientation was found to be the main effect on the findings with the exception of educational attainment and health insurance. Findings from this study may be used to develop comprehensive, appropriate, culturally competent, interventions, in addition to advocating in areas of public policy to address the breast cancer risks of lesbians.