The Belgian Cancer Foundation has just published a new preventive information leaflet in French entitled Pour les femmes qui aiment les femmes (For Women Who Love Women), with the coordination of ILGA (International Lesbian and Gay Association) and in collaboration with the following organizations: Ex Aequo, Planning Familial, Tels Quels, Mega Top Biches, Magenta, and Vieux Rose.
Do women who love women have a greater risk of developing a cancer of the breast and of the uterus collar? It is because the problem is particularly unrecognized by the public most concerned that this initiative was undertaken.
Being lesbian or bisexual does not have a direct influence on the frequency of breast cancer and cancer of the uterus collar. However, there are certain risk factors that are unique to women who love women – which explains the importance of informing them of the risks.
To accept oneself as lesbian or bisexual implies taking care of one’s health.
What are the risk factors?
• Lesbians and bisexual women see their doctors less often (fear of homophobic reactions, less frequent use of contraceptive treatment) and have fewer early detection medical examinations (mammography or smear test
• Because of social or family pressure, lesbians and bisexual women can sometimes feel depressed and, therefore, take less care of their health.
• Studies show that lesbians and bisexual women are more reluctant to do a regular auto-examination of their breasts.
• On average, lesbians less often have a baby before the age of 30, which increases the risk of breast cancer.
• Certain studies indicate that lesbians and bisexual women may, at certain moments, abusively consume alcohol and tobacco, which increases the risk of breast and uterine collar cancer.
In addition to mentioning the risk factors in regard to breast and uterus collar cancers, the leaflet gives valuable advice for reducing them, emphasises the importance and the impact of early detection medical examinations, and explains the special framework of the doctor-lesbian/bisexual relationship.