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 LGBTQ+ Cancer Resources

The LGBTQ+ community in Iowa face multiple health burdens, and one of the largest burdens is cancer. Much of this burden could be relieved due to the fact that much of the LGBTQ+ cancer burden comes from preventative causes, such as smoking and HPV.

Tobacco Use

According to the 2012 and 2014 Iowa Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), 37.7% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals aged 18-34 used tobacco, compared to 20.4% of their heterosexual counterparts. Additionally, studies consistently show that lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals' smoking prevalence is anywhere from 35-200% higher than the general population across the nation. (*No information regarding transgender individuals is given due to a small sample size.)


Within the LGBTQ+ community, up to 13% of women who have sex with women may have genital HPV infections. Studies have found that men who have sex with men (MSM) are 17 times more likely to develop HPV-related anal cancer, compared to their heterosexual counterparts.

Current Consortium Work

Currently, the Iowa Cancer Consortium, along with its partners, Johnson County Public Health and the American Lung Association in Iowa, are working to reduce LGBTQ+ tobacco use in the state. An outline of our work can be found below:

  • Raising awareness of the LGBTQ+ tobacco disparity by developing and implementing media campaigns through various mediums, such as social media, local print, websites, LGBTQ+ bars, etc.
  • Working with Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) to target LGBTQ+ youth where tobacco use generally begins.
  • Collecting data on LGBTQ+ tobacco use through the distribution of surveys at LGBTQ+ bars, Pride events, and college campuses.
  • Addressing other health-related topics such as, mental health, HPV, etc. to further support our efforts in not only reducing the LGBTQ+ tobacco disparity, but to promote overall good health in the population.


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