Asian Americans and Lung Health

The American Lung Association pays tribute to the history, heritage and contributions of Asian American and Pacific Islander people in the United States.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (May1 - June 1) is a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. A rather broad term, Asian/Pacific encompasses all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands), Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia) and Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Easter Island).

Lung Health and Asian American and Pacific Islander Communities

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among Asian Americans/Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders. Within this population, Hawaiian men and women have the highest rates of lung cancer deaths. Filipino men and women have the lowest rates of lung cancer deaths.1

National data on the rate of new lung cancer cases among specific Asian populations is limited. Nationally, rates are significantly lower among AAPIs compared to white and Black Americans for both men and women. Ultimately, AAPI men have the 3rd highest rate of new lung cancer cases, after Black men and white men respectively (more than Latino and Indigenous (American Indian/Alaska Native) populations). Rates of news cases, per 100,000 are as follows:3

  • AAPI men - 46.2
  • White men - 62.2
  • Black men - 71.2

Like other racial and ethnic groups, AAPI women are significantly less likely than men to be diagnosed with lung cancer. The disparity between the sexes is greatest for Black Americans and AAPIs, with AAPI men being about 62% more likely than AAPI women to be diagnosed with lung cancer.3

Learn more in our State of Lung Cancer Report.

Flu & Pneumonia

Pneumococcal vaccination rates are significantly lower among Filipinos than non-Asians, and significantly lower among other Asians, Asian Indians, and Chinese compared to Filipinos. Pneumococcal vaccination rates do not vary significantly by sex among Asian populations nationally.1

In 2018, Asian Americans had the highest rate of influenza vaccination, and the second lowest death rate among racial and ethnic groups. Data are not available for more specific Asian populations due to limited sample sizes and survey limitations.i 

Learn more about the flu and pneumonia.

Asthma

Asthma rates are lower for Asian than non-Asian populations, except for Filipinos and Japanese in California, who are statistically like non-Asians nationally. Asthma rates do not vary significantly by sex for most Asian populations. Asthma rates in the U.S. among AAPI communities:1

  • 228,000 Chinese 
  • 659,000 Filipino 
  • 283,000 Asian Indian*
  • 527,000 other Asian 
  • 40 million non-Asian
COPD

COPD rates are generally low among AAPI populations nationally. The rates also do not vary significantly by sex among Asian populations. Rates are significantly lower for Asian than non-Asian populations, but are significantly higher among Filipinos compared to other Asian populations. COPD rates among Asian and Pacific Islander Americans:1

  • 170,000 Chinese
  • 573,000 Filipino
  • 126,000 Asian Indian*
  • 449,000 other Asian
  • 54.8 million non-Asian

Wildfires and Lung Health

  1. NCI SEER CSR 1975-2017.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders and Tobacco Use. 2019. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/disparities/asian-americans/index.htm.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. National Health Interview Survey, 2014-2018.
  4. UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. California Health Interview Survey 2015-2019.
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