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Transgender individuals at higher risk of developing certain diseases, says Munich Re

By Justine Montminy | February 20 2018 09:45AM

Photo: Unsplash

Transgender individuals may be at higher risk of developing certain diseases, according to a recent Munich Re Canada analysis. Transgender individuals identify with the sex opposite to the one assigned at birth and may have symptoms known as "gender dysphoria". Some individuals will choose to take hormones or undergo sex reassignment surgery to relieve gender dysphoria.

The study says transgender people who go on hormone therapy for sex reassignment can develop side effects that increase certain risks. Transgender women who take estrogen are at risk of developing hypertriglyceridemia (increased levels of triglycerides in the blood) and hyperprolactinemia (an increase in prolactin in the blood).

Transgender men on testosterone may develop hypertriglyceridemia, hypertension, elevated transaminases and polycystic ovarian changes.

Higher mortality rate

Munich Re’s analysis says transgender people have a higher mortality rate than the general population, but there is no link between hormone therapy and this higher rate. Mental health disorders, such as anxiety, depression and suicide, are more prevalent among transgender individuals. Sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STIs), including HIV, are also more prevalent.

However, Munich Re underlines, based on a systematic review of 28 studies, that 78 per cent of transgender people who underwent sex reassignment (hormone therapy with or without sex reassignment surgery) reported an improvement in the psychological symptoms of gender dysphoria. In addition, 80 per cent reported an improvement in their quality of life.

25 million transgender individuals worldwide

In addition, the University of Los Angeles' Williams Institute of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy, says it is estimated that 0.6 per cent of the US population is transgender. Rolled out globally, this would mean there are about 25 million transgender individuals in the world (based on a conservative estimate of 0.5 per cent).

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