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Asian Women

Narrative

In 2010, over 6 million U.S. women (5.0 percent) identified themselves as Asian.1 Between 2000 and 2010, the Asian population increased by 43.3 percent—more than any other race group.2 Incredibly diverse, the Asian population comprises people native to the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent. Among the Asian population in the United States, the largest nationalities are Chinese (22.8 percent), Asian Indian (19.4 percent), Filipino (17.4 percent), Vietnamese (10.6 percent), Korean (9.7 percent), and Japanese (5.2 percent).3 Although Asian American women are generally healthier and have the longest life expectancy of any race group, there is great variation with some groups shown to have higher rates of certain conditions including diabetes, cancer, and Hepatitis B infection—a virus that causes liver disease and cancer.4

In 2006–2010, compared to non-Hispanic White women, Asian women overall were slightly more likely to report ever having been diagnosed with diabetes (7.2 versus 6.4 percent, respectively) or ever having hepatitis (3.4 versus 2.6 percent, respectively). However, among subgroups with available data, only Asian Indian women had significantly higher risk of diabetes (12.4 percent), and only Chinese women had a higher risk of hepatitis (4.3 percent) than non-Hispanic White women.

Due in part to health-related cultural beliefs, cervical cancer screening rates are lower among Asian women.5 In 2010, 75.7 percent of Asian women aged 21–65 had received a pap smear within the past 3 years compared with 84.6 percent of non-Hispanic White women. Of the Asian subgroups with available data, only Filipinas had screening rates comparable to non-Hispanic White women (86.9 percent). Higher cervical cancer rates have been shown for Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese women.6 Liver and stomach cancer rates are also higher among many Asian groups due to infection with hepatitis and a stomach bacterium known as H. pylori, respectively; which are common in countries where many Asian Americans were born and migrated from.6

Increasing the prevention and treatment of hepatitis and improving data collection on the health and well-being of the Asian and Pacific Islander population, including detail on ethnic subgroups, are among the health goals of a White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.7

1 U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census. Table P12D: Sex by Age (Asian Alone) Accessed 11/08/12.

2 Humes KR, Jones NA, Ramirez RR. Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin: 2010 Census Brief. U.S. Census Bureau, March 2011.

3 U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census, 2010 Census. Table PCT5: Asian Alone with One Asian Category for Selected Groups. Accessed 11/08/12.

4 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Women's Health. Minority Women's Health: Asian Americans. Accessed 11/08/12.

5 Schleicher, E. 2007. Immigrant Women and Cervical Cancer Prevention in the United States. Baltimore, MD. Women's and Children's Health Policy Center. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

6 Miller BA, Chu KC, Hankey BF, Ries LA. Cancer incidence and mortality patterns among specific Asian and Pacific Islander populations in the U.S. Cancer Causes & Control. 2008 Apr;19(3):227-56.

7 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health. White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders: HHS Plan for Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Health. Accessed 11/08/11.

Graphs

Data

Diabetes and Hepatitis Among Women,* by Selected Race Group, 2006-2010
Race/Ethnicity Percent of Women
Women with Diabetes Women with Hepatitis
*Reported that a health professional had ever told them that they had diabetes; reported ever having had hepatitis; all estimates are age-adjusted.
**Estimate does not meet the standards of reliability or precision. Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey, 2006–2010. Analysis conducted by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau.
Non-Hispanic White 6.4 2.6
Asian Overall 7.2 3.4
Asian Indian 12.4 **
Chinese 4.7 4.3
Filipino 8.3 2.4
Other Asian 6.4 3.5

Receipt of Recommended Cervical Cancer Screening Among Women Aged 21-65,* by Selected Race Group, 2010

Percent of Women:

  • Non-Hispanic White: 84.6
  • Asian Overall: 75.7
  • Asian Indian: 71.5
  • Chinese: 71.6
  • Filipino: 86.9
  • Other Asian: 70.2

*Based on U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations of a Pap smear every 3 years for women aged 21-65 years; all estimates are age-adjusted.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey, 2006–2010. Analysis conducted by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau.