We need to take better care of ourselves! That includes less stress!
Asians in the state (Asian American State) are dying from cancer at a rate higher than any other ethnicity, and one-third of all Korean Americans don’t have health insurance, according to data released Thursday.
The first-ever report from the California Asian Pacific Islander Joint Legislative Caucus compiled data from 25 ethnic groups.
The State of Asian American, Native Hawaiian Health in California Report showed that despite their reputation as a healthy, successful minority group, Asians in the United States have serious health problems.
"We’re exploding a lot of myths," said Assemblyman Mike Eng, D-El Monte, who led the effort to create the report.
Although Asians have a reputation for easily assimilating and healthy living, it is a perception that is not accurate, Eng said.
He hopes the report will "bury the myth of the Asian American as the ‘model minority,’" he said.
Eng worked as an emergency room technician as a young man in his home state of Hawaii. He said that every day he saw people with preventable diseases knocking at death’s door.
This year, he kicked off an effort to accurately document the health problems plaguing Filipinos, Samoans, Chinese, Koreans, Thai and other Asians.
Too often, Eng said, Asians and Pacific Islanders are bunched together as one ethnic group.
But each of the ethnicities is plagued by different problems.
In total, more than 27 percent of Asians die of cancer, the study found. In comparison, cancer claims about 23 percent of whites, 22 percent of blacks and 20 percent of Latinos.
Koreans, Vietnamese and Chinese specifically suffer high rates of liver cancer.
About 32 percent of Hmong live under the poverty line, according to the report.
Thirty-three percent of Koreans don’t have health insurance.
Filipinos, Tongans and Samoans have a high rate of obesity. And, although more data need to be collected, it seems Cambodians suffer from a high rate of post-traumatic stress disorder.
The research on Asian/ Pacific Islander health is so sparse that much of the data sets were too small to be statistically significant, Eng said.
He hopes to use the data to spur more research.
The next step is to find out why each group has its problems, he said.
"Let’s prioritize," he said. "We’re not going to cure everybody. I just want to start with this and keep building."
Percent of deaths caused by cancer:
- Asians 27.7 percent
- Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 25.4 percent
- White 23.3 percent
- Latino 20.4 percent
- Black 22.4 percent
- American Indian/Alaska Native 20.3 percent
Source: The State of Asian American, Native Hawaiian Health in California Report