Minority Health Issues

While health is an important issue for everyone, racial and ethnic minorities in this country continue to face significant health disparities despite the progress that has been made. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Health Institutes (NIH) have a large number of resources available to aid in reducing the gaps in health among minorities. There are many areas where we see a noteworthy difference in health issues.

According to the National Cancer Institute, white women have higher rates of breast cancer, but African-American and Hispanic women are more likely to die from the disease. For all cancers combined, cancer incidence rates between 2007 through 2011 were the highest overall in black men (587.7 per 100,000 men) compared to any other racial or ethnic group. While overall cancer mortality rates from 2001 through 2010 decreased by 1.4 percent per year among whites and by 2.1 percent per year among African Americans, they decreased by only 0.7 percent per year among American Indians and Alaska Natives. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have the highest incidence rates for both liver and stomach cancers and are twice as likely to die from these cancers as whites. Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders are 30 percent more likely to be diagnosed with cancer compared to non-Hispanic whites. Hispanics and Latinos have the highest rates for cancers associated with infection, such as liver, stomach and cervical cancers. Although Hispanics and Latinos have lower incidence and death rates for the most common cancers than non-Hispanic whites, they are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced stages of disease.

According to the FDA, many racial and ethnic minorities have higher rates of cardiovascular disease than white Americans. African Americans have the highest rate of high blood pressure, the leading cause of heart disease and stroke. African Americans also tend to develop the disease earlier in life. African Americans, Latinos, and American Indians experience a higher burden of related health conditions as well. American Indians use tobacco products more than any other ethnic group, and all groups are affected by diabetes and obesity more than white Americans. All three conditions are major risk factors for heart disease.