Press Release: AAPI Nexus Journal’s Health Issue

UCLA Asian American Studies Center Journal Examines Health Problems of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

Note to Editors: For media copies of the book, contact Melany Dela Cruz (melanyd@ucla.edu)

Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) health problems, as well as solutions to these problems, are discussed in a new journal published by the UCLA Asian American Studies Center.

Little is know about these health problems, which include high levels of cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and what is known is not widely disseminated, according to Marjorie Kagawa-Singer, a UCLA associate professor of public health and Asian American Studies, and Paul Ong, a UCLA professor of Asian American studies and the director of the Ralph and Goldy Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies.

The journal is entitled AAPI NEXUS: Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Policy, Practice and Community.

A common fallacy is that Asian Americans are a “model minority” and do not possess significant health problems due to their traditional diets and culture, wrote Kagawa-Singer and Ong in the journal’s introduction. However, some diseases, such as diabetes and breast, stomach and liver cancers, occur at an even higher rate than for non-Hispanic white Americans. Many other health problems also occur at significant rates among Asian American and Pacific Islander subgroups, but few in either the AAPI or health communities are aware of these problems.

As Asian American and Pacific Islanders Westernize their lifestyles, their disease profiles begin to mirror those of the dominant U.S. society, and the change becomes apparent within one generation. The patterns of change, however, vary among Asian American and Pacific Islander subgroups due to differences in traditional cultural practices, immigration histories, socioeconomic restraints and in the level of adoption of the dominant American lifestyle.

For example, some groups consume diets very high in sodium such as soy and fish sauces, and pickled, smoked and salted foods, which contain nitrates that increase the risk of stomach cancer (the highest rates in the world are in Asia.) Highly peppered foods also may contribute to higher stomach cancer rates, which could indicate why Korean American men have the highest rates of stomach cancer in the United States. South Asians, who often cook with ghee , a type of butter, and fry many foods, have some of the highest rates of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases among Asians and Pacific Islanders. More than 90 percent of Asians and Pacific Islanders are lactose intolerant, and calcium intake is lower than in U.S. diets. Many elderly Asian American women suffer from osteoporosis, which has a higher mortality rate than all female cancers combined.
Julia Liou and Sherry Hirota wrote about Oakland’s Chinatown, which holds the record for the highest number of pedestrian and vehicle accidents in the city of Oakland, and the Asian Health Services’ campaign to increase awareness among community members about the problem. The campaign has evolved into an environmental justice campaign, which demonstrates how a campaign can address effectively a chronic public health problem and how health centers can function as catalysts of community and economic development.

Hongtu Chen, Elizabeth J. Kramer, Teddy Chen, Jianping Chen and Henry Chung examine mental health services for Asian Americans, who have the lowest use of mental health services compared to all other racial and ethnic groups. The authors described The Bridge Program, an innovative program in New York that bridges the gap between primary care and mental health services.

Cecilia Chen, Doug Brugge, Alice Leung, Andrea Finkelman, Weibo Lu and Will Rand wrote about childhood asthma rates and its severity in the Asian American population in Boston’s Chinatown. The authors developed an exploratory study that helped develop methodology for researching asthma in Chinese immigrant populations and examined language issues.

Lisa Sun-Hee Park and David Naguib Pellow wrote about the role of working-class Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Silicon Valley’s high-technology revolution. The researchers considered the thousands of Asians/Pacific Islanders who make Silicon Valley possible by producing the hardware that runs the machinery upon which this modern-day empire was built, and addressed the health hazards experienced by those involved in home-based piecework.

Chi-kan Richard Hung analyzed the characteristics of Asian American nonprofit organizations in major U.S. metropolitan areas. Asian American nonprofits are less than 20 years old, on average. They remain a relatively small part of the nonprofit sector. According to the authors, religious organizations are generally the largest group among Asian American nonprofits, followed by cultural organizations, service agencies and public interest associations.

AAPI Nexus is pioneering the incorporation of health as an area of research and information dissemination for Asian American Studies. A second issue of AAPI Nexus focusing on Asian and Pacific Islander health statistics will be forthcoming in 2006.

Annual subscriptions for AAPI Nexus are $35 for individual subscribers, and $175 for libraries and other institutions. It is published two times a year. Prices subject to change without notice.

Individual journals may be purchased by sending a check made payable to “UC Regents” for $13 per issue plus $4 shipping/handling and 8.75 percent tax for California residents to: UCLA Asian American Studies Center Press, 3230 Campbell Hall, Box 951546, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1546. Visa, MasterCard and Discover cards also are accepted; include account number, expiration date and your telephone number. Orders and communications can be addressed to aascpress@aasc.ucla.edu or (310) 825-2968.