Health Department Releases First Set of Data on Mortality Among Chinese New Yorkers

2014 data show cancer as the leading cause of death among Chinese New Yorkers; group’s lung cancer deaths increased 70 percent, while heart disease and diabetes mortality rates are less than half of citywide rates

The Department is increasing anti-smoking messages directed to this community

June 28, 2017 — The Health Department today released an Epi Data Brief examining mortality among Chinese New Yorkers. This is the first time the Department published data on the leading causes of death and premature mortality rates for this population. The Data Brief shows cancer as the leading cause of death among Chinese New Yorkers in 2014 — unlike the rest of the city and nation, for whom heart disease was the leading cause of death. Although lung cancer death rates among Chinese New Yorkers were similar to those in New York City overall, lung cancer deaths increased 70 percent among Chinese New Yorkers from 2000 to 2014, while decreasing 16.4 percent in New York City during the same time period. The Health Department is increasing anti-smoking public messaging in Chinese-language media outlets and, in April, announced a series of anti-tobacco legislative proposals to reduce the overall number of smokers in New York City by 160,000 by 2020.

“These new data highlight the devastating effect cancer has on Chinese New Yorkers,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “We know that tobacco use is one of the leading causes of cancer in New York City and a significant driver of mortality in the Chinese community. This is why we are increasing targeted public education to ensure all New Yorkers can get the support and quit aides they need. We want every New Yorker to have an opportunity to live a long and healthy life.”

“This is the first time that the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is gathering and analyzing data on the leading causes of death for Chinese New Yorkers,” said Jane T. Eng, President and CEO of the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. “This data helps us to better understand the health of our community and the effectiveness of our healthcare services. Clearly, the data shows that we have to do a better job to prevent and treat growing rates of cancer among Chinese New Yorkers.”

While Chinese New Yorkers are more likely to die of stomach, liver, head and neck cancers than New Yorkers overall, they have the second lowest percent of premature deaths (before the age of 65) in New York City, and the mortality rates for heart disease and diabetes are less than half the mortality rates for New Yorkers overall.

The Data Brief also shows that, unlike the rest of the city, suicide and nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys) were among the top 10 leading causes of deaths among Chinese New Yorkers. To help New Yorkers facing mental health issues, including substance and alcohol misuse, the Health Department launched NYC Well, a free 24/7 call, text, chat service, last October. The service is available in Cantonese and Mandarin to assist those in need.

Other Data Highlights:

  • In 2014, cancer accounted for 33 percent of total deaths among Chinese New Yorkers, compared with 25 percent of total deaths in New York City.
  • Stroke was the third leading cause of death among Chinese New Yorkers, but the sixth leading cause of death in New York City overall.
  • Among the leading causes of death other than cancer, death rates among Chinese New Yorkers were lower than citywide rates in 2010 to 2014, except for the death rate due to stroke (19.5 versus 19.2 per 100,000 population).
  • In 2014, 23 percent of Chinese New Yorkers died prematurely, which was the second lowest percentage when compared with Whites (19 percent), Latinos (34 percent), Blacks (37 percent), and all other Asians (40 percent).
  • In 2014, the average age of death among Chinese New Yorkers was 75.4 years, which was the second highest in New York City, after Whites (77.4 years). The lowest average age of death was among other Asians (65.9 years), followed by Blacks (68.7 years), and Latinos (69.6 years).

The full Epi Data Brief with data tables can be found here (PDF).

Chinese New Yorkers (defined by reported ancestry or race as Chinese, Taiwanese, Hong Kongese or Cantonese) make up the largest Asian population in New York City — accounting for 47 percent of all Asians in 2010 — and the fastest growing demographic in the five boroughs, increasing 35 percent from 2000 to 2010. Between 2010 and 2014, Chinese New Yorkers were 7 percent of the city’s overall population.

The initiative to track mortality data is part of the Health Department’s effort to expand targeted services in neighborhoods bearing a disproportionate burden of poor health and connect New Yorkers to necessary testing and care.

“The new data released by the Department of Health provides critical insight into the leading causes of death among New Yorkers of Chinese descent, particularly the impact of cancer in the Chinese American community,” said U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens). “This information gives us a better understanding of the health needs of Chinese New Yorkers and a clearer picture of where attention and resources should be focused. I thank the Department of Health for publishing this valuable data. It will go a long way towards providing resources that help Chinese New Yorkers live healthier and possibly longer lives.”

“The health data relating to Chinese Americans that was released today will help us identify effective strategies targeted to health issues unique to New York’s Chinese American community,” said Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY). “In doing so, we can find ways to better use federal, state and City resources to meet this community’s healthcare needs.”

“This data increases the capacity of clinicians, public health professionals, and policy makers to better tailor our response to the health challenges facing Chinese New Yorkers. Improving health outcomes for all New York communities depends on timely, accurate, disaggregated data. With this Epi Data Brief, the Health Department has delivered just that. Whether crafting policy, regulatory, or public awareness raising responses, this information means we are all in a better position to meet critical health needs,” said State Senator Jesse Hamilton. “Thanks to the Health Department for publishing this information and I look forward to taking the necessary next steps to effectively commit resources where they will lead to healthier New York communities.”

"New York's Chinese-American community is an important part of what makes New York great, and better data for better health interventions is an important part of better serving all communities," said State Senator Daniel Squadron. "Thank you to Commissioner Bassett, DOHMH, and my colleagues in government."

“This new-found data acts as an indicator for the Health Department in determining the leading causes of mortality in the Chinese community,” said State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky. “It is important to increase efforts in an anti-smoking campaign. We must also ensure they get the treatment and protection they need. It is imperative that we make all demographics aware of the health risks they face. In addition, you cannot help but notice the number of people smoking in Flushing."

“Today’s report from city health officials lets us know more about the leading causes of death and premature mortality rates for New York's Chinese community. It’s alarming that cancer is the leading cause of death in this group,” said Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz. “I urge everyone to learn more about the threat of cancer. People should never smoke and watch their diets. A healthy life style goes a long well to happier and longer lives."

"This report released by DOHMH is an eye-opener, not just for the Chinese-American community, but for those of us who represent them and advocate on their behalf,” said Assembly Member Yuh-Line Niou. “We need more data like this out there, so we can increase awareness around these major health concerns, and then work together to provide the resources to communities where they are most needed. Moving forward, I will be sharing the data collected in this report with my colleagues in the State's Asian Pacific American Legislative Task Force so that we can examine the best way to improve the overall health of Chinese-American New Yorkers."

"Now more than ever, we must work together to implement a comprehensive, culturally competent plan to address the unique health disparities faced by the Chinese community in New York City," said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. "While New York City overall saw a decrease in lung cancer deaths, Chinese New Yorkers saw a staggering 70% increase. I look forward to working with Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett, the NYC Department of Health and AAPI community groups to educate Chinese New Yorkers on the dangers of tobacco use and other prevalent health issues in the community, including strokes, suicide and nephritis. I will continue to fight for quality of life improvements to ensure that all New Yorkers, especially communities of color and working families, can live happier, healthier lives."

“These data sets will help our city to better understand mortality patterns among our city’s diverse populations so that we can direct critical resources toward preventative measures. A targeted public health campaign within the Chinese community will help raise awareness of the dangers of smoking and equip our community organizations to take charge of this issue on the local level,” said Council Member Peter Koo.

“The smoking rate for Asian American men in New York City was 25.4% in 2015, the highest rate for all major race and ethnic groups in New York City,” said Dr. Warren Chin, Executive Director of the Chinese American Medical Society. “All of us — physicians, hospitals, health clinics, the health department, community leaders and our elected officials — need to work together to reduce tobacco use in the community. We need to provide better education to the community about health risks related to smoking, as well as to improve access to cessation services.”

The Health Department will be participating at the following events in the next two months. Health Department employees will distribute NYC Quits smoking literature, and will be directing Chinese New Yorkers to the Asian Smokers’ Quitline.

Maimonides Medical Center 8th Annual NY Immigration Day
Saturday, July 15th – 10:30am to 3:00pm
7307 18th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11204

Flushing Hospital Medical Center at Charles B. Wang Community Health Center Health Fair
Saturday, August 5th – 10:00AM to 3:00PM
136-26 37th Avenue, Flushing, NY 11354

Charles B. Wang Community Health Center Health Fair
Wednesday, August 9th – 10:00AM to 3:00PM
Sara Roosevelt Park — Chrystie Street & Forsyth Street, Manhattan

About OneNYC
The goal of OneNYC: The Plan for a Strong and Just City is to ensure that all New Yorkers live a long and healthy life. Premature mortality is closely tied to poverty, which in New York City correlates with communities of color that have long undergone structural and historical oppression. Under the OneNYC plan, the City has committed to reducing the premature mortality rate by 25 percent by 2040.

About Take Care New York
Take Care New York 2020 is the Health Department’s blueprint for a healthier life for everyone. With TCNY 2020, the Health Department is working together with community residents and partners to identify their most important health priorities and to improve the health of their neighborhoods. For more information about Take Care New York 2020, visit


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