BOSTON (CBS) — Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health have found that very feminine girls and strongly masculine boys are more likely to engage in behaviors that pose cancer risks than their gender non-conforming peers.

WBZ NewsRadio1030’s Diane Stern reports

Scientists analyzed data from over 9,000 adolescents. The study compared cancer risk behaviors to the participants’ gender expressions.

The study found that the most feminine girls were more likely to use tanning beds and be physically inactive. The most masculine boys were more likely to use chewing tobacco and smoke cigars.

“Our findings indicate that socially constructed ideas of masculinity and femininity heavily influence teens’ behaviors and put them at increased risk for cancer,” said lead author Andrea Roberts, research associate in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at HSPH.

The researchers suggest that the tobacco and tanning industries are somewhat at fault for these results. “Though there is nothing inherently masculine about chewing tobacco, or inherently feminine about using a tanning booth, these industries have convinced some teens that these behaviors are a way to express their masculinity or femininity,” said Roberts.

This was the first study to analyze the relationship between cancer causing behaviors and gender norm conformity in teens.

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