LESBIAN HEALTH: IOM Says More Research Needed
An Institute of Medicine panel said yesterday that "[m]ore research is needed into the health of lesbians," marking "the first time such a large, mainstream medical organization has specifically addressed the issue of lesbian health." The nine-member IOM panel also said that physicians need more education on treating lesbians, the Washington Post reports. Kathy Oriel, president of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, said, "I am thrilled. This is probably the single most important step for lesbian health we've seen" (Hosaka, 1/15). Dr. Jocelyn White, GLMA past president and co-editor of the Journal of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, said, "Today is a landmark day in the history of lesbian health" (GLMA release, 1/14).
Need To Know
The AP/Los Angeles Times reports that among the findings of the "long-awaited study" is that while there is evidence that lesbians may be "at higher risk for breast cancer because of perceived higher rates of alcohol consumption, overweight and childlessness," and also at higher risk for ovarian cancer because "they're less likely to bear children or use birth control pills," no one really knows "for sure." There are also unanswered questions about the impact of stress on their health resulting from their sexual orientation and reluctance to seek care because of negative encounters with physicians. While calling for more research into lesbian health, the IOM panel also noted that there are many inherent difficulties in studying lesbians as a defined population (1/14).