Caner prevention for gay men may not be as simple as putting out a cigarette. According to the American Cancer Society
, gay men are at increased risk for skin, prostate, colon and lung cancer due to lack of health care coverage and discrimination. Here's what you need to know about gay men and cancer prevention:
- Lack of health coverage.
Some companies offer same-sex benefits; but for those that do not, gay partners are left without adequate health coverage- which is a factor in early detection of cancer.
Ask your benefits specialist if your company is a gay-friendly company or if they offer same-sex partner benefits. If you're not out at work, have a friend make an anonymous call expressing your concerns. Time is critical in the race against cancer. A cancer-free lifestyle is worth a few uncomfortable moments on the phone.
- Health care discrimination and negative experiences.
Many gay men feel apprehensive about getting medical help for fear of discrimination. I am reminded of a time when a friend of mine went to his doctor awaiting a diagnosis of the flu. Once the doctor found out he was gay, she told him to go to the HIV/AIDS clinic immediately. Terrified and tearful, he solicited a second opinion from a doctor he knew was gay-friendly. His illness was indeed the stomach flu with no sign of HIV. My friend's misdiagnosis and his doctor's discomfort with gay patients could have easily resulted in a phobia against medical professionals. For this reason some gay men do not visit the doctor, which can delay early detection of cancer.
A few simple observations can aid in finding a medical professional that is sensitive to your needs. Don't be afraid to ask questions or look around their office for gay-friendly publications. These tips on finding a gay-affirmative psychotherapist can apply to any medical professional: Gay-affirmative medical professionals.
- Gay men and smoking.
Smoke-filled bars and clubs are common hang outs for some gay men. For this reason, according to the American Cancer Society, gay men are more likely to smoke or be exposed to smoke. A recent gay.com article on gay smoking cites 36 percent of LGBT adults are smokers, compared with 25 percent of all adults. Smoking accelerates the progression of AIDS and increases the risk of lung cancer. HIV also accelerates smoking-induced emphysema.
It's been over a year since I kicked some smoking butt. I remember having no desire to smoke before I started. I often hung out with people that smoked either at bars or just socializing. I finally accepted their offer to have a drag. One drag turned into half of a cigarette. That single stick turned into several bummed cigarettes a day and eventually a purchased pack. My habit was in full acceleration.
I finally had enough of the stinky clothes and bad breath and tarnished belonging, so I decided it was time to dine in the cooler smoke-free section. I kicked the habit! How? I let my pride lead me to a smoke-free life. I made a wager with a friend (and heavy smoker). The first to pick up a cigarette had to forfeit a dollar. Neither one of us wanted to lose. We are both still smoke free to this day.
Quitting is a different process for each individual, but well worth clean (cancer-free) lungs and a healthy lifestyle. This helpful smoking cessation resource teaches how to quit smoking, how to deal with withdrawal and even addresses weight gain.