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Study Examines Sun Protection Habits in Sexual and Gender Minority Populations in Lebanon


Investigators recommended further studies exploring the confounding variables that may contribute to higher rates of skin cancers in this patient population.

By surveying sun damage perceptions among sexual and gender minority populations in Lebanon, investigators hoped to initiate conversations about contributing risk factors for skin cancers, according to a recent cross-sectional study1 published in the Journey of Cosmetic Dermatology.

Nattawat/Adobe Stock
Nattawat/Adobe Stock

According to study authors Ghaoui et al, previous research has shown that men who are members of the LGBTQIA+ community face a higher prevalence of skin cancers than heterosexual men. This is the first known study of its kind that examines sun protection awareness and behaviors among members of this patient population in Lebanon while also exploring the prevalence of skin cancers in the country.

Adult patients between the ages of 18 and 80 (n=129) were invited to complete an anonymous survey and were asked to answer questions about their demographic information, sun protection habits, sun protection measures, and overall medical knowledge. Patients were recruited from American University of Beirut Medical Center dermatology clinic, LGBTQIA+ support organization Helem, and SIDC, a social solidarity organization. Of all participants, 84.6% identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or asexual.

“Although there was no significant association between sexual orientation and SPF use, more than half of those who identified as gay (78.8%), lesbian (55%), asexual (75%), bisexual (66.7%), and those who identified as other (66.7%) reported no SPF use,” study authors wrote. “Additionally, no significant association was found between sexual orientation and tanning bed use, but the majority of those who identified as gay (83.1%), lesbian (78.9%), bisexual (88.9%), those who identified as others (83.3%) and all participants who identified as asexual (100%) reported no previous tanning bed use.”

Key Takeaways

  • A cross-sectional study aimed to understand sun damage perceptions among sexual and gender minority populations in Lebanon, revealing potential contributing risk factors for skin cancers in this group.
  • Dermatologist-provided sun exposure and protection information correlated with higher rates of SPF use, indicating the potential for effective educational campaigns to spread awareness about sun protection and skin cancer risks among this population.

Furthermore, investigators noted that there was not a significant difference between SPF use and knowledge of the causes of skin cancer. Sixty-four point seven percent of participants who reported no prior knowledge of the association between sun exposure and skin cancer admitted that they did not use SPF. Less than half (n=32.1%) of participants who exhibited knowledge of the relationship between sun exposure and resulting pigmentation reported SPF use.

Patients who reported receiving sun exposure and protection information from their dermatologists had significantly higher proportions of SPF use (n=72.2%) compared to those whose knowledge came from family, friends, the media, or various unspecified sources.

“Surveying the perception of the Lebanese SGM [sexual and gender minority] community towards sun damage and their adaptive practices to prevent it, can help implement and gear a nation-wide campaign to spread proper awareness about this subject,” wrote Ghaoui et al. “Studying their behavioral tendencies for not using sunscreen can help overcome this contributing risk factor for skin cancers. Future investigations have yet to identify confounding variables contributing to higher levels of skin cancers in this population.”


  1. Ghaoui N, Hasbani DJ, Hassan S, Bandali T, Saade S, Saade D. Sun protection use and habits in the LGBTQI+ community in Lebanon: a cross sectional study. J Cosmet Dermatol. Published online August 26, 2023. doi:10.1111/jocd.15974
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