Youth who identify themselves as very masculine or very feminine are significantly more likely to engage in cancer causing activities such as chewing tobacco, smoking cigars or using sunbeds.

This emerged after researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health analysed data from 9 435 adolescents. They looked at how masculine or feminine the participants identified themselves as. They also looked at the participants lifestyles and behaviors.

Boys, who described themselves as masculine, were 80% more likely to chew tobacco and 55% more likely to smoke cigars when compared to boys who described themselves as least masculine.

The most feminine girls were 32% more likely to use tanning beds and were also more likely to be physically inactive.

“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,” says lead author Andrea Roberts.

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