WASHINGTON — Turns out, for men, being bisexual can be injurious to health.
According to a study conducted by the New York University, bisexual men have a higher risk for heart disease compared with heterosexual men across several modifiable risk factors.
“Our findings highlight the impact of sexual orientation, specifically sexual identity, on the cardiovascular health of men and suggest clinicians and public health practitioners should develop tailored screening and prevention to reduce heart disease risk in bisexual men,” said lead author Billy Caceres.
Little is known about the impact of sexual orientation on heart disease risk in men, despite the fact that gay and bisexual men may be at a higher risk based on modifiable factors like tobacco use and poor mental health.
In this study, the researchers examined differences in modifiable risk factors for heart disease and heart disease diagnoses in men of different sexual orientations.
Risk factors measured included mental distress; health behaviors such as tobacco use, binge drinking, diet, and exercise; and biological risk factors such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and cholesterol.
Participants who reported having angina, coronary heart disease, heart failure, heart attack, or stroke were considered as having a diagnosis of heart disease.
The researchers analysed responses from 7,731 men ages 20 to 59. Differences were analysed across four groups based on their sexual identities: gay men, bisexual men, heterosexual men who have sex with men, and heterosexual men.
The researchers found no differences in heart disease diagnoses based on sexual orientation, but the risk for heart disease was more complicated. Gay men, heterosexual men, and heterosexual men who have sex with men had similar heart disease risk.
Gay men reported lower binge drinking compared with heterosexual men, but otherwise few differences in health behaviors were noted.
Bisexual men, however, had higher rates of several risk factors for heart disease relative to heterosexual men: mental distress, obesity, elevated blood pressure, and three different measures of diabetes (medication use, medical history, and average glycosylated hemoglobin level).
“Poor mental health is a recognized risk factor for the development of heart disease,” said Caceres. “Clinicians should be educated about sexual minority health and should routinely screen bisexual men for mental distress as a risk factor for heart disease.
This is particularly important as healthcare organizations increasingly include sexual orientation as part of demographic questionnaires in electronic health records.”
The researchers also noted that the study underscores the importance of disaggregating analyses for gay and bisexual participants to ascertain differences in health outcomes between these subgroups.
The study findings appear in the journal LGBT Health.
New vaginal ring to prevent HIV, pregnancy is safe: Study
An experimental vaginal ring designed to prevent pregnancy and HIV looks safe, according to an early stage study.
The ring is designed to provide 90 days’ protection at a time. The dual-purpose ring releases the antiretroviral drug dapivirine and the contraceptive hormone levonorgestrel, said researchers led by Dr Sharon Achilles, of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
This small, 14-day trial involving 24 women who were not pregnant and not infected with HIV was the first clinical study of the ring.
“We are very encouraged by our findings in this first-in-human study of the dapivirine-levonorgestrel ring,” said Achilles, an assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences.
Its use resulted in sufficient levels of levonorgestrel to prevent pregnancy and adequate levels of dapivirine to reduce risk of HIV infection, the researchers noted.
There were no safety concerns, and the ring was well-tolerated, according to the Microbicide Trials Network study.
The researchers have started a second Phase 1 trial in which women will use the ring for 90 days.
“With a second study underway, we are another step closer to potentially having an easy-to-use product that can provide safe and effective, long-acting protection against both HIV and unintended pregnancy,” Achilles said in a network news release.
The research was funded by the US National Institutes of Health and presented Wednesday (Oct 24) at an HIV prevention conference, in Madrid, Spain.
Research presented at meetings is usually considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.