Connect with us

Health & Wellness

Beauty for Sale

Cosmetic surgery has become so pervasive, it is now a $4 billion industry, and is said to be growing at a 30% rate per annum. Now that it’s more accepted, where do you head for the next fix?

Published

on

The general acceptability of cosmetic surgery helped spawn an industry all its own – medical tourism, which pits the medical practitioners of developed countries, once regarded as the elite bastions of medical expertise, with the developing countries, now also offering highly qualified and well-trained medical professionals using the most advanced in technology.

The story, seeming like an urban myth, even made it to the pages of Asiaweek Magazine: a wealthy Filipino executive in his 60s took his mistress to a plastic surgeon to make her look like his wife when he married her. Unknowingly, the wife went to the same doctor to undergo cosmetic surgery herself, in a bid to keep her husband. After all the nipping and tucking, the wealthy husband left his mistress to return to the surgically rejuvenated wife – but only after undergoing surgery himself, as he started feeling insecure about his own aging appearance.

In a society that is willing to pay the top price for a youthful look, over $160 billion is spent annually worldwide on cosmetic and toiletry products, including deodorants, shampoos and soaps, makeup, lotions, and fragrances. In 2002, Filipinos spent P70 billion for the same, with the figure estimated to reach P89 billion in 2007.

However, more belatedly, cosmetic surgery has become the somewhat simple, yet long-term answer to the pursuit for beauty. Having a hard time losing the gut despite hundreds of sit-ups every day? Opt for abdominal liposuction (price starts at $1,400). There are even muscle implants for the gym body without ever lifting a gym equipment. Losing hair too fast? Consider hair transplant (from $1,500). Insecure about your manhood? Have a penile enlargement and/or lengthening operation (from $450). For women, the vaginal opening can be tightened (from $550) for another “Like a Virgin” experience. Getting edged by younger guys simply because they look better – and, well, younger? Mull over facelift (from $1,000). And, while doing so, you may consider adding a dimple and a cleft chin (from $360) for the Brad Pitt/Alec Baldwin look.

Once derided as vanity medicine, cosmetic surgery has gone a long way, as it is now largely recognized as a legitimate arm of medicine. While it was once only discussed in hushed voices, now anybody who underwent one or more cosmetic surgical procedures actually boasts of having them – men and women alike.

According to former Philippine Medical Association (PMA) president Bu C. Castro, M.D., Ll.B., FPSP, the Philippines is actually a premier destination when it comes to availing of cosmetic surgical procedures, among others. In fact, balikbayans (returning overseas Filipinos) are known to come home to undergo such treatments “Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), especially those in the entertainment industry, (are among the biggest markets of cosmetic surgery in the Philippines, as it allows them) to level with their competitors, particularly Caucasians, (by giving them similar physical attributes),” he says.

Plastic and reconstructive surgeon Carlos I. Lasa Jr., M.D. agrees. “First, comparing (our costs with) the costs (of medical treatment) where they are working right now, say in London or New York or Japan, where the charges are very high, they can save by coming here,” he says. The balikbayans are also familiar with the Philippine medical system, so they “have more or less this trust in our medical system.” And third, the treatments are merely side trips when they come over to take a vacation, so their visit becomes one trip for everything.

READ:  Despite best intentions, nurses still have gaps in healthcare provision for trans people

COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGES

The general acceptability of cosmetic surgery helped spawn an industry all its own – medical tourism, which pits the medical practitioners of developed countries, once regarded as the elite bastions of medical expertise, with the developing countries, now also offering highly qualified and well-trained medical professionals using the most advanced in technology.

“This is a $4 billion industry, which is said to be growing at a 30% rate per annum,” Eddie Uy of rxpinoy.com, the first online community of Filipino doctors and dentists that serves to connect various sectors with the health industry, says. Combined with affiliated industries like tourism, India’s BusinessWorld Magazine estimated that millions of travelers actually spend over $40 billion a year. “We should – and can – break into that.”

The local industry has been changing over time, however. According to Uy, although OFWs continue to be the major market of cosmetic procedures, their portal had been receiving inquiries on these procedures from Europeans, particularly from Germany and Denmark. Also, other procedures mainly attract foreign nationals, such as Australians for dentistry, Japanese and Koreans for ophthalmology, and Americans and Europeans for bariatric surgery.

Once derided as vanity medicine, cosmetic surgery has gone a long way, as it is now largely recognized as a legitimate arm of medicine. While it was once only discussed in hushed voices, now anybody who underwent one or more cosmetic surgical procedures actually boasts of having them – men and women alike.

The biggest edge of the Philippines over other countries, particularly in Asia, is its relatively cheap rates for the procedures. For example, breast augmentation could cost up to $5,043 in the US, and at a much lower price of $2,500 in Thailand’s Preecha Aesthetic Institute, but would only cost $2,100 in the Philippines. Similarly, full facelift could cost up to $5,000 in the US, and $4,000 in Thailand, but only $2,500 in the Philippines.

“Among others, there’s an interest in general surgery and cardiovascular surgery because (if they have the surgeries in their home countries) they are sometimes required to co-pay, which they can’t afford, and cosmetic surgery because it is not covered by medical insurance offered to them abroad. So they see (us),” Lasa says. He nonetheless stressed, “The reality is we can’t have fees as high as our counterparts in US and Europe. We also have to have fees that are affordable to the local patients. So when I put up my rates and publish them on the website, it was with due cognizance of the rates in other countries, and of course, the prevailing rates in the Philippines.”

“If you compare the (rates) in peso, (they may look expensive),” Castro says. “But if you go to Singapore, (it’s even more expensive). Even (compared to) Hong Kong, we’re still cheaper when you convert (the rates) to peso. A P150,000 procedure here could cost P250,000 in Hong Kong, and even more in Singapore and Thailand.”

It helps, too, that the standard of living is cheaper in the Philippines by foreign standards. “The Philippines’ highly favorable exchange rate can benefit both local and foreign patients,” Lasa says. With the foreign exchange rate averaging at P56 per $1, the amount brought in by a foreigner visiting the Philippines “can get more for less.”

READ:  What's the deal with stem cell treatment?

Another advantage Lasa sees is that “over Thailand and India, the language barrier is non-existent (in the Philippines) for those who speak English well.”

Dr. Castro, however, believes that the country’s biggest edge is the expertise of the Filipino medical practitioners. “We can be competitive – especially with the skills we have. For example, the medical education in China is only four years, (while) ours is 16 years. So how could you rate their qualifications with ours?” he says.

“And with many of our professionals trained abroad, they don’t mind coming here for their treatments,” adds Lasa.

TAKING WINGS

However, while the Philippine government acknowledges that medical tourism is a potential source of dollar income, there are currently no “nationally palpable efforts done (to advance it), so we’re still off the radar of most Europeans, Americans and other nationals (who are considering availing of medical services outside their home countries),” Lasa says.

Lasa contends that government support will help develop a young industry. “For example, the Indian government (gives certain) incentive to dollar earners,” he says. “We need something like that to really promote (medical tourism in the Philippines). As it is right now, we just (get involved in medical tourism) as part of our regular practices.”

That Philippine government has, in fact, included the medical profession in the expanded value added tax (E-VAT). “The government thinks that by taxing, they can generate more income. Actually, they may be mistaken in that assumption,” Lasa says.

“Necessarily, we’ll have to increase the prices also – we’ll have to throw to the patients the costs of the E-VAT. That’s the problem,” Castro says. “The E-VAT has a negative effect on medical tourism – it will jack up the prices. But it will be costly not only to medical tourism but to local patients, who will primarily bear the burden because of the E-VAT.”

Lasa, however, said that while not necessarily translating to increase in prices, “the implementation of E-VAT will mean a decrease in our net income – it will amount to that.”

A bigger problem bothering the local medical tourism industry is its lack of cohesion. “Aside from the medical, dental, cosmetic and other procedures, medical tourism actually bundles hotel stays, destination tours, concierge services including interpreters, caregivers and tourist guides, and many others” Uy of rxpinoy.com says. “But at the moment, most of these (related) industries and sectors (go it alone).”

Castro recommends the establishment of a national call center for medical tourism, preferably with the assistance of medical staff because they would know what the industry is all about and has to offer. “When prospective clients would call up to ask specific questions, our agents should be able to answer them. Else, they’d ask their questions elsewhere – it could be India, Singapore or Thailand – then end up going there,” he says.

While there are entrepreneurs interested to open services like Singapore’s MNC, a one-stop information center for all medical services offered by the country state, “they want it to be outright business operations, not service-oriented, which increases the prices,” Castro says. “If that happens, then we lose our competitive advantage over our competitors.”

Pinoyrx.com is gearing towards the establishment of a “specific hub for medical tourism” when it recently established http://mtpshow.rxpinoy.com, which lists accredited hospitals, current rates and the credentials of Filipino practitioners. “But beyond that, we would like to cross sell other services in the country – if a person undergoes dental implant that requires for him to stay for up to 10 days in the country, then he has to choose accommodation. While here, he could go on tour. And while touring, he may need other services. rxpinoy.com could help arrange all those,” Uy says.

Dr. Bu Castro believes that the country’s biggest edge is the expertise of the Filipino medical practitioners. “We can be competitive – especially with the skills we have. For example, the medical education in China is only four years, (while) ours is 16 years. So how could you rate their qualifications with ours?” he says.

Another problem the industry is facing is the lack of “related infrastructure,” Lasa says. In Thailand, for example, Bumrungrad Hospital has its own hotel facility, connected by a walkway to the hospital, so families can be close to a family member undergoing treatment. “If local hospitals can afford such facilities, it will definitely help promote our medical tourism,” he says.

READ:  Coco Aroma: Spelling C-O-O-L in Puerto Galera

The urgency to address this situation varies, nonetheless, says Castro. “Makati City, for example, has hotels not far from hospitals. It is in other places like Quezon City that problems arise, since they are far from each other,” he says. Already, however, efforts are already done to establish a hospital cum accommodation facility in Subic Bay Metropolitan Area, among others.

The lack of solidity in the industry also poses a problem when it comes to regulating practitioners. “The Philippine law allows all licensed doctors to do any kind of surgery – mainly, this is to allow doctors in provinces to be able to give emergency treatments without worrying about legal consequences,” Lasa says. “This is good for the provinces, but (in cosmopolitan areas) this is problematic.”

While the PMA and other professional associations can regulate medical practitioners, their grasps are limited only to members. “(Medical tourism) is a very good concept,” Castro says. “But it could be subject to abuse with the sprouting of fly-by-night cosmetic centers that we need to control. The government should issue a listing on the qualified and accredited (practitioners). There should be some kind of a regulation to tell the customer that they are also protected.”

At the end of the day, Castro believes it all boils down to marketing. “When you say tourism, marketing is very important,” he says. “And when you say medical tourism, you’re not only marketing the medical services, but the Philippines itself – places to go to, accommodations and services, everything. We should realize that marketing is an indispensable arm of medical tourism.”

GROWING DEMAND

“I think there is a future (for medical tourism in the Philippines),” Lasa says. “Definitely, as long as there is an economic need for people abroad, as long as there is a perceived benefit of coming (here) to have treatments given by competent – let me emphasize competent – practitioners, there will always be people coming here for such reasons, so medical tourism will continue to prosper.”

Uy says that people live longer, “and you need to provide people to look after them (as they age).” “Coupled that with the escalating cost of health care – instead of chasing the expenses, they might as well outsource it,” he says. “With the advent of technology, information has become fluid, so it helps our cause (to promote the Philippine medical tourism). Who knows, this may just avert the brain drain of our medical professionals.”

While arguing that a concerted effort needs to be done in order for the local industry to realize its full potential, “I do not conduct my practice with grandiose visions – I conduct my practice with a simple philosophy: providing excellent patient care on a one-to-one basis. I don’t regard this as a business. I went into this field because I like treating patients on a one-to-one basis. If dadami ang patients ko (the number of my patients grow) because (they were referred to me by satisfied patients) then well and good,” Lasa says. “In the end, it is because of how good we are at our profession that is the driving force of people coming to avail of our services.”

 

Health & Wellness

Between 16% and 18% of preadolescents have ideas of suicide

Up to 18% of preadolescents have ideas of suicide, with the main risk factors including depressive symptoms, anxiety and compulsive obsessive disorder.

Published

on

Photo by @bernard_ from Unsplash.com

Up to 18% of preadolescents have ideas of suicide, with the main risk factors including depressive symptoms, anxiety and compulsive obsessive disorder. This is according to “Suicidality in a Community Sample of Early Adolescents: A Three-Phase Follow-Up Study”, done by Voltas, N., Hernández-Martínez, C., Arija, V. and Canals, J.

In the study, the researchers studied a group of 720 boys and 794 girls who studied in 13 schools in Reus. They were monitored during three developmental periods: 10 years old, 11 years old and 13 years old. At the beginning of the study, the students answered a series of psychological tests that were used to detect which of them presented emotional symptoms related to depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). From their responses, two groups were created: one group at risk of emotional problems and a control group.

The disorders were diagnosed with standardised international criteria and the boys and girls were monitored to see how suicidal ideation developed throughout the research period.

The figures were quite stable. During the first period, 16% of the students stated that they had thought about suicide, of whom 33% stated the same one year later. In both the second and the third period, ideas of suicide were expressed by 18% of the students surveyed. The risk of suicide was determined in a personal interview and was present in 12.2% of the children with an average age of 11 years old. Although there were no differences between the sexes, the severity of the suicidal behaviour was greater in boys.

READ:  Sexual minority women less likely to receive appropriate sexual, reproductive health support

The researchers also observed what factors predicted suicidal ideation and they found here that there were differences between the sexes.

“In boys it is previous depressive symptoms which determine subsequent suicidal ideation,” says Núria Voltas, one of the researchers involved in the study. In girls, on the other hand, it is a combination of anxiety symptoms, OCD and the family’s socioeconomic situation.

The results of this research, published in the scientific journal Archives of Suicide Studies reveal the factors that can trigger ideas of suicide in this age group. “Our results will enable us to have greater control over this particular aspect and take prevention measures in preadolescents, who are going through a period of considerable vulnerability,” she concludes.

This is a noteworthy study, considering other – and earlier – studies have repeatedly highlighted how members of the LGBTQIA community are greatly affected by suicide. In 2018, for instance, a study from the University of Arizona noted that 50.8% of transmasculine adolescents between the ages of 11 and 19 have attempted suicide at least once, while 41.8% of nonbinary adolescents – those who don’t identify as exclusively male or exclusively female – have attempted suicide.

Still another study – also done in 2018 – that appeared in Pediatrics noted that almost 14% of adolescents reported a previous suicide attempt, with disparities by gender identity in suicide attempts. Female to male adolescents reported the highest rate of attempted suicide (50.8%), followed by adolescents who identified as not exclusively male or female (41.8%).

READ:  Despite best intentions, nurses still have gaps in healthcare provision for trans people


Still another study – also done in 2018 – that appeared in LGBT Health found that a total of 37% of trans respondents reported having seriously considered suicide during the past 12 months and 32% had ever attempted a suicide. Offensive treatment during the past three months and lifetime exposure to trans-related violence were significantly associated with suicidality. 


Continue Reading

Health & Wellness

FDA warns public on dangers of injectable whitening products like glutathione

The FDA stated that there are numerous side effects on the use of injectable glutathione for skin lightening, including toxic effects on the liver, kidneys, and nervous system.

Published

on

Photo by Thorpe Mayes IV from Unsplash.com

It sure took them a while, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has – finally – warned the public on the dangers associated with the use of injectable lightening agents such as glutathione.

In an advisory dated July 5, 2019 – FDA Advisory No. 2019-182 – the FDA noted that “in the Philippines, several health and beauty salons, wellness spa and beauty clinics are offering all kinds of beauty enhancements, services and skin treatments. It is alarming that they also offer services such as intravenous drip or infusion using skin lightening agents including reduced glutathione, vitamin C and other injections.

“To date there are no published clinical trials that have evaluated the use of injectable glutathione for skin lightening. There are also no published guidelines for appropriate dosing regimens and duration of treatment. The FDA has not approved any injectable products for skin lightening. Injectable glutathione is approved by FDA Philippines as an adjunct treatment in cisplatin chemotherapy.”

The FDA stated that there are numerous side effects on the use of injectable glutathione for skin lightening, including toxic effects on the liver, kidneys, and nervous system. “Also of concern is the possibility of Stevens Johnson Syndrome. Injectable glutathione is sometimes paired with intravenous Vitamin C. Vitamin C injection may form kidney stones if the urine is acidic. Large doses of Vitamin C have resulted in hemodialysis in patients with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency.”

Other potential risks include transmission of infectious agents, such as HIV, hepatitis C and B. This is of particular concern when non-medical practitioner administers this treatment or done in a non-sterile facility.
Photo by Jair Lázaro from Unsplash.com

And given that glutathione affects the production of melanin (the pigment that gives the human skin, hair and eyes their color), “there are (also) theoretical concerns about the long term skin cancer risk.”

READ:  Coco Aroma: Spelling C-O-O-L in Puerto Galera

Other potential risks include transmission of infectious agents, such as HIV, hepatitis C and B. This is of particular concern when non-medical practitioner administers this treatment or done in a non-sterile facility.

The FDA is urging people to consult ONLY a board-certified dermatologist, and avoid buying injectable products online and from being lured to a promising effect of medicines as beauty products.

“Seek medical attention immediately if you experience any side effects and report it to FDA at pharmacovigilance@fda.gov.ph or via online reporting through www.fda.gov.ph.” The Center for Drug Regulation and Research may also be reached at (02) 809-5596.

Continue Reading

Health & Wellness

Seeing greenery linked to less intense and frequent cravings

The findings add to evidence that points to the need to protect and invest in green spaces within towns and cities, in order to maximize the public health benefits they may afford.

Published

on

Photo by Samuel Zeller from Unsplash.com

Being able to see green spaces from your home is associated with reduced cravings for alcohol, cigarettes and harmful foods, new research has shown.

The study, led by the University of Plymouth, is the first to demonstrate that passive exposure to nearby green space is linked to both lower frequencies and strengths of craving. It builds on previous research suggesting exercising in nature can reduce cravings, by demonstrating the same may be true irrespective of physical activity.

Researchers say the findings add to evidence that points to the need to protect and invest in green spaces within towns and cities, in order to maximize the public health benefits they may afford. They also suggest the causality of this link needs to be investigated further.

The study, published in the journal Health & Place, is the first to investigate the relationship between exposure to natural environments, craving for a range of appetitive substances and the experiencing of negative emotions or feelings.

It involved academics from the University’s School of Psychology, with support from the European Centre for Environment and Human Health at the University of Exeter.

Leanne Martin, who led the research as part of her Master’s degree in Plymouth, said: “It has been known for some time that being outdoors in nature is linked to a person’s wellbeing. But for there to be a similar association with cravings from simply being able to see green spaces adds a new dimension to previous research. This is the first study to explore this idea, and it could have a range of implications for both public health and environmental protection programs in the future.”

READ:  LG TONE Active Bluetooth headset launched

For the research, participants completed an online survey that explored the relationships between various aspects of nature exposure, craving and negative affect.

Among other things, it measured the proportion of green space in an individual’s residential neighborhood, the presence of green views from their home, their access to a garden or allotment; and their frequency of use of public green spaces.

The results showed that having access to a garden or allotment was associated with both lower craving strength and frequency, while residential views incorporating more than 25% greenspace evoked similar responses.

The study also measured physical activity undertaken within the same time frame that cravings were assessed, showing the reduced craving occurred irrespective of physical activity level.

Dr Sabine Pahl, Associate Professor (Reader) in Psychology, added: “Craving contributes to a variety of health-damaging behaviors such as smoking, excessive drinking and unhealthy eating. In turn, these can contribute to some of the greatest global health challenges of our time, including cancer, obesity and diabetes. Showing that lower craving is linked to more exposure to green spaces is a promising first step. Future research should investigate if and how green spaces can be used to help people withstand problematic cravings, enabling them to better manage cessation attempts in the future.”

Continue Reading

Health & Wellness

Alcohol causes significant harm to those other than the drinker

Some 21% of women and 23% of men experienced harm because of someone else’s drinking in the last 12 months. These harms include: threats or harassment, ruined property or vandalism, physical aggression, harms related to driving, or financial or family problems.

Published

on

Photo by distel2610 from Pixabay.com

Each year, one in five adults – estimated to reach 53 million people in the US alone – experience harm because of someone else’s drinking. This is according to “Alcohol’s secondhand harms in the United States: New data on prevalence and risk factors”, research done by Nayak, M. B. Patterson, D. Wilsnack, S. C. Karriker-Jaffe, K. J. and Greenfield, T. K., and which appeared in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

This is why, according to the researchers, similar to how policymakers addressed the effects of secondhand smoke, society also needs to combat the secondhand effects of drinking because alcohol’s harm to others is “a significant public health issue.”

To conduct the study, researchers led by Nayak of the Alcohol Research Group, a program of the Public Health Institute in Oakland, California, analyzed data from two telephone surveys conducted in 2015 – the National Alcohol’s Harm to Others Survey and the National Alcohol Survey. The current research, funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, looked at data from 8,750 respondents age 18 and older and provides support for alcohol control policies, such as taxation and pricing to reduce alcohol’s harm to persons other than the drinker.

According to the study, some 21% of women and 23% of men, an estimated 53 million adults, experienced harm because of someone else’s drinking in the last 12 months. These harms include: threats or harassment, ruined property or vandalism, physical aggression, harms related to driving, or financial or family problems. The most common harm was threats or harassment, reported by 16% of survey respondents.

READ:  HIV and AIDS Policy Act signed into law

The specific types of harm experienced differed by gender. Women were more likely to report financial and family problems, whereas ruined property, vandalism, and physical aggression were more likely to be reported by men.

The researchers also cited additional factors, including age and the person’s own drinking. For instance, people younger than age 25 had a higher risk of experiencing harm from someone else’s drinking.

Also, almost half of men and women who themselves were heavy drinkers said they had been harmed by someone else’s drinking. Even people who drank but not heavily were at two to three times the risk of harassment, threats, and driving-related harm compared with abstainers. Heavy drinking was defined as drinking five or more drinks at a time for men or four or more drinks for women at least monthly.

It is worth noting that members of sexual minority sectors have higher rates of polysubstance use/abuse.

“[T]he freedom to drink alcohol must be counter-balanced by the freedom from being afflicted by others’ drinking in ways manifested by homicide, alcohol-related sexual assault, car crashes, domestic abuse, lost household wages, and child neglect,” wrote Timothy Naimi, M.D., M.P.H., of the Boston Medical Center in an accompanying commentary.

Naimi advocates for increased taxes on alcoholic beverages, noting that there is strong evidence that increased alcohol taxes decrease excessive drinking and reduce the harms to people other than the drinker.

READ:  Visayan LGBT, MSM communities to get HIV trainings, screening materials

Nayak – the research’s lead author – agreed. “Control policies, such as alcohol pricing, taxation, reduced availability, and restricting advertising, may be the most effective ways to reduce not only alcohol consumption but also alcohol’s harm to persons other than the drinker,” she said.

Continue Reading

Health & Wellness

Sexual minority women more likely to engage in high-intensity binge drinking

Sexual minority women, whether defined on the basis of sexual attraction, behavior, or identity, were more likely than sexual majority women to engage in high-intensity binge drinking.

Published

on

Photo by andrew jay from Unsplash.com

Sexual minority women, whether defined on the basis of sexual attraction, behavior, or identity, were more likely than sexual majority women to engage in high-intensity binge drinking. This is according to a study done by Jessica N. Fish and published in LGBT Health.

The study, “Sexual Orientation-Related Disparities in High-Intensity Binge Drinking: Findings from a Nationally Representative Sample“, eyed to assess sexual orientation differences in high-intensity binge drinking using (American) nationally representative data.

Data used were from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions III (N = 36,309), a nationally representative sample of US adults collected in 2012–2013. Sex-stratified adjusted logistic regression models were used to test sexual orientation differences in the prevalence of standard (4+ for women and 5+ for men) and high-intensity binge drinking (8+ and 12+ for women; 10+ and 15+ for men) across three dimensions of sexual orientation: sexual attraction, sexual behavior, and sexual identity.

As per the researcher (and as stated): “Sexual minority women, whether defined on the basis of sexual attraction, behavior, or identity, were more likely than sexual majority women to engage in high-intensity binge drinking at two (adjusted odds ratios [aORs] ranging from 1.52 to 2.90) and three (aORs ranging from 1.61 to 3.27) times the standard cutoff for women (4+).”

Sexual minority men, depending on sexual orientation dimension, were equally or less likely than sexual majority men to engage in high-intensity binge drinking.

The results suggest that differences in alcohol-related risk among sexual minority individuals vary depending on sex and sexual orientation dimension.

READ:  Gay and lesbian spaces in the city becoming more diverse, not going away

Continue Reading

Health & Wellness

LGBT-identifying females are at increased risk of substance use in early adolescence

The odds of substance use among females who identify as sexual minorities – an umbrella term for those who identify with any sexual identity other than heterosexual or who report same-sex attraction or behavior – is 400% higher than their heterosexual female peers.

Published

on

Photo by Marta Branco from Pexels.com

Females who identify as sexual minorities face an increased risk of substance use that shows up as early as age 13, suggesting early adolescence is a critical period for prevention and intervention efforts, a new study from Oregon State University has found.

The odds of substance use among females who identify as sexual minorities – an umbrella term for those who identify with any sexual identity other than heterosexual or who report same-sex attraction or behavior – is 400% higher than their heterosexual female peers.

“We saw this striking difference in substance use at age 13 and there was rapid increase in the rate of cigarette and alcohol use from there,” said Sarah Dermody, an assistant professor in the School of Psychological Science in OSU’s College of Liberal Arts and the study’s lead author. “That tells us we need to find ways to intervene as early as possible to help prevent substance use in this population.”

The findings were published recently in the Journal of LGBT Youth. Co-authors are James McGinley of McGinley Statistical Consulting and director of behavioral analytics at the Vector Psychometric Group; Kristen Eckstrand, a physician at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center; and Michael P. Marshal of the University of Pittsburgh.

Among youth, alcohol, marijuana and nicotine are the three most commonly used drugs. That is a concern because youth who use those substances are at risk of negative health and social outcomes, including addiction and poor cognitive, social and academic function.

READ:  Despite best intentions, nurses still have gaps in healthcare provision for trans people

Past research has shown that sexual minority youth reported nearly three times more substance use than heterosexual youth. The disparity may be due in part to stress from discrimination, violence and victimization rooted in their sexual minority status, Dermody said.

The pattern of increased substance use for youth who identify as sexual minorities is magnified significantly for females. In the new study, researchers hoped to gain better understanding of how substance use rates develop over time for this group in particular, Dermody said.

Using data from about 2,200 participants in the Pittsburgh Girls Study, a large, longitudinal study of the lives of urban girls, researchers examined substance use among females over time from age 13 to 20, comparing those who identified as heterosexual to those identifying as lesbian/gay or bisexual.

They looked at when disparities in use between heterosexual and sexual minority identifying females began to emerge; rates of change over time for both groups; and how rates change as the girls approach young adulthood.

The researchers found that disparities in substance use between heterosexual and sexual minority girls were already present at age 13. The difference in use between heterosexual and sexual minority girls persisted and increased as they entered their 20s.

The findings suggest that early prevention and intervention efforts may be needed to reduce initial use and slow the escalation of substance use among the population. Such efforts could also help decrease substance use disparities over time, Dermody said.

READ:  Reasons to extend your home this year

“It’s already a risky and vulnerable period for youths’ social development, and it’s also a vulnerable time for brain development,” Dermody said.

It’s also important to remember that within the population of youths who identify as sexual minorities, there are many youths who are not using any substances at all, or who are not using them as heavily, Dermody said.

“This is a subgroup that we are concerned about,” she said. “In future research, it would useful to explore how individual youths’ experiences influence where they fall on the spectrum of substance use.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Facebook

Most Popular