Asian American Youth and E-Cigarette products

by Chris Sedayao

While a little less than 1 in 7 of all Americans smoke, around 1 in 4 Vietnamese American men smoke, according to the Center for Disease Control.  The use of cigarettes has decreased significantly in the United States since the days of the Marlboro Man, with young adults smoking 18-24 less than the average.  Still, cigarette companies have found ways to sell into this younger demographic.

Asian American youth have found an alternative to cigarettes, but like their predecessors, use highly addictive products such as vapes, Juuls, Suorins, and countless other e-cigarettes products. According to a study posted by the US National Library of Medicine of the National Institutes of Health, use of these products was high among Filipinos, Vietnamese, and Chinese Americans in that order. Filipino American use was higher than the overall US average.  Being a young adult and growing in an Asian American community, I have been exposed to all these products. I have seen the effects vary from person to person, but in general, most people who use these products become addicted. These companies have become successful in targeting the youth with their products over the last few years.

Despite that, there is still hope in changing the way kids look at e-cigarette products as the government did with cigarettes throughout many years of stigmatizing advertising. Starting with, one can share the downsides of using these products and help limit the use of e-cigarettes for current users and future generations of youth.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Chris Sedayao grew up in Northern California and is currently a student at Northeastern University.

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Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum Launches Podcast: “Check Up, Check In.”

The Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum recently launched a new podcast: Check Up, Check In. As stated in a press release:

Hear stories of health and inspiration in the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander community. The Check Up, Check In podcast will explore unique perspectives and stories about what health means, and how communities are advancing health equity and justice. This podcast — brought to you by the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum — will enlighten, move, and empower you.

Check out this preview with upcoming Season 1 guests Agents of SHIELD’s Chloe Bennet and Funny Or Die’s Brad Jenkins.”

When you get a chance, please check the podcast out.

Breast Cancer Rates Increasing Among Asian American Women

Scarlett Lin Gomez
Scarlett Lin Gomez

A new study from the Cancer Prevention Institute of California (CPIC), with Scarlett Lin Gomez as the lead researcher of the study, is showing an increase of breast cancer in Asian American women.  This is particularly troubling because the rate among other racial groups has stabilized.

The study looked at women in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, from 1988 to 2013, and included women from different Asian American backgrounds, including Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Filipino, South Asian, Vietnamese, and Southeast Asian and compared it with results from non-Hispanic white women.

The rate of cancer has been growing fastest in South Asian (Indian and Pakistani), Vietnamese, and Southeast Asian (Cambodian, Laotian, Hmong and Thai) women.  The common thread among these women seems to be that they are among the more newly immigrated to the U.S. (and those that are newly introduced to American diets/environment/etc).

A recent NBC News article on this topic talks about how one doctor told his patient that Asian American women didn’t get breast cancer.  But of course, Asian American women do get breast cancer and in ever increasing rates.  The woman’s sister Mai-Nhung Le, a professor at San Francisco State University, studied the needs of Asian American women and found that Asian American women reported more “unmet daily physical needs”, such as needing help with cooking, housework, and transportation. Le also noted the significance of the CPIC findings that indicated Vietnamese and Southeast Asian women are more likely to have breast cancer before age 50.

My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer back when she was about 50 years old, but it almost didn’t happen.  She went in for a mammogram, which apparently the normal image would not have caught her breast cancer. Since her lump was so far off to the side, it presented as pain under her arm.  It was only because she mentioned her under arm pain to the mammography technician that he took a separate side image that caught the image of the lump in her breast tissue.

At the time she was lucky in that they diagnosed my mother as stage 1, and she received a double mastectomy along with many rounds of chemotherapy, and couple of years later was declared cancer free.  Fast forward 15 years later, and her cancer returned, metastasized and incurable.  She passed away a few years later.  I’m grateful for the many years we got to have my mom because of the early diagnosis, but I’m still mad that we don’t have a cure yet, and we had to lose her, too soon to see her own grandchildren grow up.

If you’re an Asian American woman, make sure you understand the warning signs and that you get your mammogram.  Don’t let a doctor tell you that Asian American women don’t get breast cancer.

8Books Review: “Tell Me Everything You Don’t Remember” by Christine Lee

Tell Me Everything You Don’t Remember: The Stroke That Changed My Life by Christine Hyung-Oak Lee is a compelling memoir about the author’s reinvention after a life-changing stroke at the age of 33. Eloquently written, Lee guides readers through the trauma of her stroke while interweaving honest self-reflection during a period in which she was in many ways, not herself, through to her evolution as a writer and a newly defined sense of self.

It can happen with memoirs, that the events defining them are so out-of-the-ordinary (extra-ordinary if you will) that there’s an extra distance created between reader and writer. But Lee writes in a way that bridges this distance (a stroke at 33 is after all quite rare and unusual) to reflect on what made her who she was and how to adjust in the aftermath. It’s not a this happened then this happened then this happened kind of memoir, though those details are included, but rather a memoir that takes us on a journey through her thought process and her damaged and healing brain.

Tell Me Everything You Don’t Remember is about relationships and sense of self and belonging and expectations. It is not about suffering, but rather about growth. Lee is unflinchingly honest about the difficulties of her journey, moments where her behavior was unflattering, her recovery and her divorce, motherhood and postpartum depression. She allows us to see her flaws, but also her evolution, recovery, and reconfiguration of priorities that led to writing. And we can all be grateful for that.


Asian American Commercial Watch: Secret Deodorant’s Namaste

I first saw this Secret Deodorant commercial on Facebook. I can’t saw I’ve seen it on TV. But when I saw the image:


I thought it was pretty funny. As Secret states in the YouTube description of the video: “Worry about the meeting, not your pits.”

I thought it was pretty funny. I can honestly say, I’ve never used deodorant in my life. To be honest, I don’t think Asians exhibit that much body odor? [See Koji’s post “Do Asians Smell?”]

September is Suicide Prevention Month; “Together Not Alone” PSA #IFEELALIVE

#IFEELALIVE is a national awareness campaign launched on the Love and Discovery blog in support of Suicide Prevention Month in September.

Suicide was the 8th leading cause of death for Asian-Americans, whereas it was the 11th leading cause of death for all racial groups combined.

This video is aimed at educating and helping Asian American Pacific Islanders with mental health issues.

The following people contributed to this PSA:
Megan Lee, Jason Chu, Elizabeth Sung James Kyson, Sean Michael Afable, Raymond Ma, Grace Su, Only Won, Lina So, Larissa Lam, Emily Wu Truong, Kanika Lal.

Statistics cited in the video are derived from data from American Psychological Association and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention


Asian American Commercial Watch: Nature’s Bounty – Better off Healthy – “Treadmill”

I caught this Nature’s Bounty television commercial for fish oil while watching I think CNN on a Saturday morning.


I like how this 0:15 second commercial shows the woman’s future self accelerated over time an rewinds back. My mother has taken fish oil in the past, but I’ve always wondered (like vitamins), how much of  difference it can make to take such supplements. A quick reading on WebMD:

“Fish oil is FDA approved to lower triglycerides levels, but it is also used for many other conditions. It is most often used for conditions related to the heart and blood system. Some people use fish oil to lower blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol levels. Fish oil has also been used for preventing heart disease or stroke, as well as forclogged arteries, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, bypass surgery, heart failure, rapid heartbeat, preventing blood clots, and high blood pressure after a heart transplant.”

Besides the above stated benefits, WebMD goes on to list other health benefits of fish oil.

While looking for this commercial online, I also did come across the 0:30 second version of the ad, which has kind of a funny, but non sequitur moment, where the future older woman tells her younger self –

“Don’t marry Dan,” who turns out to be a creepy white guy. I wonder if this version of the ad airs!

8Books Review: “Love, Loss, and What We Ate” by Padma Lakshmi

LoveLossPadma Lakshmi’s memoir, Love, Loss, and What We Ate is an intimate look at family, growing, grief, and eating through life’s ups and downs. Best known for her role as host on Top Chef, Lakshmi takes us from childhood to the present in vivid detail with humor, honesty, and self-reflection. She is fully willing to unveil her flaws, capitalizing on the gift of hindsight.

Lakshmi ably guides us through her triumphs and travails. She is unafraid to talk about her health issues (late diagnosis with endometritis), her sex life, her relationships, and her life between East and West. Inevitably, she returns to food–the foods of her childhood, those of heartache, what she makes for those she loves–interspersing occasional recipes throughout.

Continue reading “8Books Review: “Love, Loss, and What We Ate” by Padma Lakshmi”

Asian American Commercial Watch: Kelly Hu for Viagra

So I should have blogged about this Viagra commercial when it first came out this past April, but there wasn’t a higher quality version or official versions of the commercial on their website. Now I see this ad running more and more so I’m sticking with this one. Apparently Kelly Hu is the third actress in this series of women pitching Viagra. On the Viagra site, the first two women are white – so it’ll be interesting to see if Viagra continues these series of ads, if African American and Hispanic women will be used.


My first memory of coming across model and now actress Kelly Hu was right around after graduating from college in the early 90s and coming across an early Asian American lifestyle magazine called Transpacific:

“Transpacific, which is published every other month in Malibu, Calif., is believed to be the longest running. Originally called Asiam, it has been out for seven years; it differs from A. in that it includes articles on life styles and business trends in Asia, while A.’s focus is entirely American.”

On kind of a big tangent here in italics, Jeff Yang (yes, father of “Fresh Off The Boat’s” Hudson Yang) who was A. Magazine’s editor in chief and founder. And it must have been destiny, because the first time I met Jeff Yang, it was in 1995 at Harvard at an Intercollegiate Taiwanese American Students Association (ITASA) conference. Yang was on a panel discussion on “non-traditional” careers for Taiwanese Americans (i.e. not becoming a doctor, lawyer, engineer, etc.), which included being a publisher for A. Magazine (the other panelist I recall, was talking about entrepreneurship). At that conference, I also recall Kristie Wang, then Program Director Center for Taiwan International Relations, give the speech, “How I Became a Taiwanese-American and why It Matters”which really made an impact on me. Showing you how small Taiwanese American world is, 20+ years later, I’d meet her (like Jeff Yang), in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Getting back to Kelly Hu and the Viagra commercial. From what I recall, Hu appeared a few times in some fashion photo shoots for that magazine – and those photo shoots were pretty hot.

When I first saw Hu in the Viagra commercial, I was like, ‘Is this who I think it is?’ I quickly Googled to see if that was Hu, and I was pleased to discover that I was right! In doing a quick background check, I was shocked to discover that Hu is now 47 years old. My biggest impressions of her from an acting standpoint were her roles in The Scorpion King as Cassandra and X2: X-Men United as Lady Deathstrike.

Based on Hu’s tweets (@KellyHu), she’s clearly happy to see herself in the Viagra commercial:


Hopefully Hu is getting paid a lot of residuals for the commercial.

In the past, I’ve also blogged about Hu’s political activism in regards to getting out the Asian American vote for elections, but not a lot of people know about her interest in Asian American civic engagement and support for Obama as well as they know Hu as an actress.

In another example of “connections” – as soon as I saw the Viagra commercial, I emailed the YouTube link to a friend and former work colleague of mine in LA – since she and her husband are friends with Hu, though my friend said she hasn’t seen Hu in years.

8Questions with Dr. Sandra Lee, AKA: Dr. Pimple Popper

I admit it, I’m a popaholic and I’m proud. Not sure what that is? It’s a person who loves watching videos of pimples, cysts, blackheads. The bigger, the better. For a long
long long time, I never told anyone. I mean, once in a while, it slipped out. I’d show my wife a video that I liked. Her disgusted face was enough to reinforce that I shouldn’t share my love/fascination with anyone else. My wife is legally obligated to love me. Everyone else, not so much.

Anyway, that’s why I was so excited when I saw this article about Dr. Sandra Lee on BuzzFeed. I realized I wasn’t alone. There are people out there like me — and not just a few, but a lot! And the more I read about Dr. Lee, the more I admired her.  She’s helping people and creating hours of entertainment. I thought it was time to  introduce the world of poaholic’s and Dr. Lee to 8Asians.

I had a chance to sit down with Dr. Lee and ask her a few questions:

IMG_0287 (1)

1. Tell us a little about yourself. e.g. Where did you grow up? What is your profession? And the most Asian of questions, what university did you go to and what degree(s) did you get?

My dad and mom came to America (Queens, NY) via Singapore and Malaysia the year before I was born, so that my dad could complete his dermatology residency in New York (yes, my dad is a dermatologist too (now retired)). I’m Chinese, but my dad’s from Singapore and my mother from Malaysia.

I was born in Flushing NY, but we all moved to Southern California when I was about 5.

I’m a board certified dermatologist, but I mainly consider myself to be a dermatologic surgeon, and I specialize in skin cancer surgery and cosmetic procedures and cosmetic surgery (I do liposuction, laser resurfacing, eye lifts, etc.)
Continue reading “8Questions with Dr. Sandra Lee, AKA: Dr. Pimple Popper”

Asian American Commercial Watch: Vicks’ Amanda – Moms Don’t Take Sick Days

Vicks_Mom_DayquilThis Vicks television commercial is a two-parter advertising both NyQuil and DayQuil, the first part portraying the dilemma for dad’s and the other for mom’s.

When I saw the the adult white male asking for a sick day, one imagines he’s in an office setting asking his boss for a sick day, the same when we see the adult Asian American female asking for a day off from her daughter. Although I’m not a parent, I’m sure all parents know that you never have a sick day when you have to take care of your kids (even when you are sick).

60 Minutes: Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong & Disrupting Cancer

I regularly watch 60 Minutes every Sunday evening, and was pleasantly surprised to watch this segment on Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, a native of South Africa, and a naturalized U.S. citizen. I think 8Asians has blogged about him, and I remember Soon-Shiong the first time I had heard of him since he was described the richest person in Los Angeles (one doesn’t normally think the richest person in L.A. would be in biotech / pharmaceutical industry – I would imagine someone like Steven Spielberg or some other Hollywood luminary would be).

60 Minutes does an interesting overview of Soon-Shiong and his company’s quest to help diagnose and treat cancer:

Dr_Patrick_Soon-Shiong_60_Minutes“Cancer has outwitted scientists and doctors for decades. More than 1,500 people still die of the disease every day in this country. But scientists will tell you they have learned more about cancer in the last five years than ever before. And no one is more optimistic about what that will mean for patients than Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong. He’s been called a genius, a showman, an innovator and a hypester. He’s also the richest man in Los Angeles, a doctor and entrepreneur who is worth an estimated $11 billion. … Soon-Shiong has appointed himself to lead this revolution. Cancer genome sequencing is not new but what’s different about Soon-Shiong’s project is the scale. He has spent nearly a billion dollars of his own money to build a massive infrastructure, run by super computers, to find every single genetic mutation that could drive cancer.”

I had an uncle, who happened to be a surgeon, die unfortunately due to pacreatic cancer, so I am hopefully that any advancement for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer can advance as quickly as possible before more families have to deal with the premature death of a loved one.