The Center for Women’s Health Research (CWHR) at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine released the 12th edition of our North Carolina Women’s Health Report Card on May 9, 2022. This document is a progress report on the health and health care needs of North Carolina’s 5+ million women.

Current areas of research targeted by the Center include prevention, cancers affecting women, chronic disease (including cardiovascular health, diabetes, and obesity), women’s mental health, and substance abuse. It is the only health report of its kind in North Carolina.

Carolina Demography collected the data found within this report. A complete list of data indicators and highlights from the report is available from CWHR.

Previous editions of the Women’s Health Report Card have been released biennially and tracked the state’s female health statistics in two year increments. The 2022 edition presents data from 2018-2022. Previous editions of the report card are also available for comparison.

Select findings:

  • Orange and Transylvania Counties have the highest average life expectancy for women of 84.3 years; Swain County has the lowest of 74.1 years—a 10 year gap.
  • The state’s woman population is steadily growing and women are projected to continue to outnumber men through at least 2030. 50% of NC women live in the 12 most populous counties; 50% live in the remaining 88.
  • While the 2015-2019 average number of NC women who reported smoking during pregnancy is about 9%, the highest rates were in Graham (27%) and Mitchell (24%) Counties, with a total of 15 counties reporting above double the state’s average. The lowest rates were in Wake (2%) and Mecklenburg (3%) Counties.
  • Black or African American women are more likely than other women to experience preterm birth and have babies with a lower birth weight. Preterm birth and low birth weight can have lifelong implications for the health and well-being of families.
  • After age 65, over half of North Carolina women are living with two or more chronic diseases. Chronic disease has a negative impact on the overall physical, mental, and financial well-being of women. Those with one chronic disease are at a higher risk of developing other chronic diseases.
  • Heart disease is the number one killer of women. While it is a serious concern for women of all ages, rates of heart disease increase dramatically between age groups 55-64, 65-74, and 75+. Women should strive to maintain a healthy weight and diet while engaging in exercise—and refrain from smoking—to decrease their risk of heart disease.
  • Although the incidence rates are nearly identical, Non-White women are almost 50% more likely to die of breast cancer than White women and twice as likely to die of cervical or uterine cancer.
  • Nearly 20% of NC women live in poverty with an additional 10% near poverty—a trend that has remained constant over the past 10 years. Consistent with national data, NC women of color are more likely to live in poverty.

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