Adding Pink to the Rainbow: Lesbians and Breast Cancer

I am writing this post from the comfort of my bed as I recoup from the craziness that has been my social calendar the last few days. I have quite a few posts that need to be written and I am hoping to knock out a few this afternoon.

20131019_090337Yesterday I walked alongside 20K men, women, children, and even a few dogs in support of the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s 2013 Race for the Cure at Bayfront Park. As the daughter and great granddaughter of Breast Cancer survivors, this is one charity walk/run that has a particularly important place in my heart.

I could go into a long diatribe about why breast cancer research is important but sometimes you only need to look at the facts.

Facts about Breast Cancer in the United States

  • One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
  • Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women.
  • Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women.
  • Each year it is estimated that over 220,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,000 will die. [Source]

I am sure that you have heard the shocking and scary statistic that one in three lesbians will be diagnosed with breast cancer, in comparison to the one in eight women in general.

Well if you hadn’t heard, now you have..

The question we are all trying to figure out is why. The only difference between lesbians and heterosexual women is who they cuddle with at night, so what is really the tea?

Now we know that it can’t be due to any of the biological risk factors like family history or age, so we have to take a look at the ones that can be more prevalent among the lezzies.

2013-10-20 15.16.10One factor that sends up red flags is pregnancy.

Women who have never been pregnant are at higher risk than are women who have had a child before 30. However, women who have their first pregnancy after 30 are more at risk than those who have never been pregnant. [Source].

I know I am stating the obvious but lesbians are less likely to be pregnant than heterosexual women. And when we do become pregnant it is usually after 30, since it is then when most of us are financially and emotionally stable enough to actively start trying to have children.

Pregnancy (and breastfeeding for the same reasons) aren’t the only factors that are to be considered. There are other supposed lez-factors like obesity and drinking, but until my fat butt gets over this hangover I am not interested in discussing those any further o_O.

In reality it doesn’t look like we have a real clue why lesbians seem to be more prone to breast cancer. It is mostly because we haven’t had any long term research to review. Luckily, there are groups that are in the forefront of breast cancer research including lesbian specific studies. Check out Army of Women.

I will say this even if we don’t know exactly what makes lesbians more prone to have breast cancer we do KNOW how to make sure that more of us survive it. EARLY DIAGNOSIS. Studies have consistently shown that a lower percentage of lesbians receive mammograms, pap smears and colonoscopies. These decisions are killing us.

I know there are lots of reasons for it. I know that many of us don’t like the physical intrusiveness of these procedures. I know some of us don’t want to deal with the looks and whispers of the nurses and other patients. I know it just plain sucks. I know all of these things, but I also know that is saves lives. And your life is worth saving.

As always the pix were taken with my trusty Samsung Galaxy S4.
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