Homosexuality in a Changing World: Are We Being Misinformed?
By Dr. Nadia El-Awady
Diseases Related To Homosexuality
1. Mental Illness
In October 1999, the Archives of General Psychiatry published two studies related to homosexuality and mental health. The first, “Sexual Orientation and Suicidality: A Co-twin Control Study in Adult Men” by Richard Herrel et al, reported that same-gender sexual orientation is significantly associated with each of the suicidality measures. The study found that men with same-sex partners were 2.4 times as likely as their co-twins to have thoughts about death, 4.4 times as likely to want to die, 4.1 times as likely to have suicidal ideation, 6.5 times as likely to have attempted suicide, and 5.1 times as likely to have any of the suicidal symptoms. After adjustment for substance abuse and depressive symptoms (other than suicidality), all of the suicidality measures remained significantly associated with same-gender sexual orientation except for wanting to die.
The second study, “Homosexuality and Mental Illness” by J. Michael Bailey, reported on a New Zealand study which followed 1007 individuals since birth. At the age of 21, the 28 subjects classified as gay, lesbian or bisexuals were significantly more likely to have had mental-health problems than the 979 classed as heterosexual.
The Archives of General Psychiatry also published in its January 2001 issue a study titled, “Same-Sex Sexual Behavior and Psychiatric Disorders: Findings from the Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study (NEMESIS)” by Sandfort et al., which found that psychiatric disorders were more prevalent among homosexually active people compared with heterosexually active people. Homosexual men were 2.94 times as likely to have a 12-month prevalence of mood disorder and 2.61 times as likely to have a 12-month prevalence of anxiety disorder than heterosexual men. Homosexual women were 4.05 times as likely to have a 12-month prevalence of substance use disorders than heterosexual women. More homosexual than heterosexual persons had 2 or more disorders during their lifetimes.
It should be noted that Dutch society is a very gay-affirming and gay-friendly society, which may suggest that “society’s oppression” of homosexual people is not necessarily the cause of increased rates of mental illnesses among homosexuals as some people might suggest.
2. Kaposi Sarcoma
In an indirect fashion, anal intercourse is implicated in the development of Kaposi’s sarcoma, one of the diseases on the AIDS-indicator list of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This is because nitrite inhalant recreational drugs, known commonly as “poppers”, have been popular in the gay community and are used to facilitate this practice through relaxation of the anal sphincter. Researchers at the National Institute on Drug Abuse have recognized that nitrite inhalant abuse is associated with Kaposi’s sarcoma, and HIV-negative gay men with a history of using poppers have developed this disease.
The International Journal of Dermatology explains why homosexuals’ behaviors place them at high risk for this disease, which affects the mucous membranes and the skin of its victims:
In this high risk group [the gay male population], the predominant portal of entry of free and cell-bound HIV as well as the brunt of associated cofactors and opportunistic infections can be traced to both ends of the gastrointestinal tract (mouth and anus) and also the genitalia, which happen to be common sites for KS lesions in addition to their lymphatic watersheds.
Kaposi’s sarcoma has taken a particularly tragic toll on HIV-infected homosexual men, sending them to an earlier grave than their IV-drug user counterparts. AIDS reports:
According to our data, homosexual men had a significantly higher risk of progression to AIDS and shorter survival compared with IDU [IV drug users] and other categories. In a multivariate analysis the increased risk was found to be independent of demographic and clinical characteristics but was accounted for by the higher probability of developing Kaposi's sarcoma.
3. Hodgkin’s Disease
Homosexual men suffering from HIV/AIDS also suffer from other cancers and lymphomas. One study published in the Annuls of Medicine noted the connection between homosexual AIDS patients and Hodgkin’s disease. The study concluded, “An excess incidence of Hodgkin’s disease was found in HIV-infected homosexual men.” The Journal of Clinical Oncology published a study that further supports a connection between homosexual male AIDS patients and Hodgkin’s disease.
4. Anal Cancer
Homosexual males are also at elevated risk for anal cancer. A likely possibility is that chemicals in the lubricants used to facilitate anal intercourse are a factor associated with this disease. Researchers R.J. Ablin and R. Stein-Werblowsky describe sperm and seminal plasma as capable of promoting cancer, and suggest that this accounts for the increase in cancer among people practicing anal sex.
One article in the New England Journal of Medicine commented, "Our study lends strong support to the hypothesis that homosexual behavior in men increases the risk of anal cancer: 21 of the 57 men with anal cancer (37 percent) reported that they were homosexual or bisexual, in contrast to only one of 64 controls." The Journal of the American Medical Association also published similar findings: "Epidemiological studies have shown that risk factors for anal cancer include homosexuality, history of receptive anal intercourse, presence of anal condylomata, and smoking." And the International Journal of Cancer stated, "Being single and having practiced anal intercourse appears to be associated with anal cancer and case reports have suggested a recent increase in the number of cases of anal cancer."
Another article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association stated that, “…studies indicate that immunosuppressed male homosexuals have a high prevalence of anal human papilomavirus infection and anal intra-epithelial neoplasia, and this population may be at significant risk for the development of anal cancer.”
Along the same lines, an article in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded: “Anal intercourse may predispose to anal cancer through the transmission of an infection, most probably infection with human papillomavirus.”
5. Impairment of Immune Response
Several researchers have concerned themselves with the immune dysfunction consequent to the direct entry of semen into the bloodstream by means of anal intercourse. Joseph Sonnabend has argued that repeated exposures to semen combined with various sexually transmitted disease pathogens result in impairment of immune response. Robert Root-Bernstein concluded that exposure to semen through anal intercourse can initiate lymphocytotoxic autoimmunity. Another researcher who recognizes the pathogenic effects of semen is Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos (Department of Medical Physics, Royal Perth Hospital, Perth, Western Australia), author of “Looking Back on the Oxidative Stress Theory of AIDS” published in Continuum volume 5, number 5 - mid-winter 1999.