Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Public Health and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

Gay/Lesbian sexual orientation increases risk for cigarette smoking and heavy drinking among members of a large Northern California health plan

Elisabeth P Gruskin* and Nancy Gordon

Author Affiliations

Kaiser Permanente Division of Research 2000 Broadway, 3rd Floor Oakland, CA 94612, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Public Health 2006, 6:241  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-6-241

Published: 3 October 2006

Abstract

Background and significance

Tobacco and alcohol use and related morbidity and mortality are critical public health problems. Results of several, but not all, studies suggest that lesbians and gay men are at elevated risk for smoking tobacco and alcohol misuse.

Methods

Data from random sample general health surveys of adult members of a large Northern California Health Plan conducted in 1999 and 2002 were analyzed using gender-based multivariate logistic regression models to assess whether lesbians (n = 210) and gay men (n = 331) aged 20–65 were more likely than similarly aged heterosexual women (n = 12,188) and men (n = 9342) to be smokers and heavy drinkers.

Results

After adjusting for age, race/ethnicity, education, and survey year, lesbians were significantly more likely than heterosexual women to be heavy drinkers (OR 2.14, 95% CI 1.08, 4.23) and current smokers (OR 1.60, 95% CI 1.02, 2.51). Among men, gays were significantly more likely than heterosexuals to be current smokers (OR 2.40, 95% CI 1.75, 3.30), with borderline significant increased risk for heavy drinking (OR 1.54, 95% CI 0.96, 2.45).

Conclusion

Lesbians and gay men may be at increased risk for morbidity and mortality due to higher levels of cigarette and alcohol use. More population-based research is needed to understand the nature of substance use in these communities so that appropriate interventions can be developed.