A comparison of cancer incidence among physician specialists and the general population: A taiwanese cohort study

Shih Yi Lin, Cheng Li Lin, Wu Huei Hsu, I. Kuan Wang, Chiz Chung Chang, Chiu Ching Huang, Chia Hung Kao, Shu Hui Liu*, Fung Chang Sung

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

9 Scopus citations


Physicians are frequently studied as a population that experiences extremely high stress, burnout, and prolonged working hours that might harm one's health. However, they have sound medical knowledge and have easy access to medical resources. We studied the incidence of cancer among Taiwanese physicians using a nationwide cohort study design. Methods: Data were obtained from the National Health Insurance (NHI) system in Taiwan. The physician cohort contained 22,309 physicians, and each physician was randomly frequency-matched according to age and sex with 4 people from the general population. Results: The overall incidence ratio of cancer was 27% lower in the physician cohort than in the nonphysician comparison cohort (33.9 vs. 46.5 people per 10,000 person-years, crude hazard ratio (HR)=0.73, 95% CI=0.70, 0.76). The adjusted HR was 0.78 (95% CI=0.72, 0.84). Female physicians experienced a higher incidence rate ratio of overall cancer, compared to male physicians (crude HR=1.17, 95% CI=1.03, 1.33 vs. crude HR=0.70, 95% CI=0.67, 0.74, respectively). Physicians were at a significantly higher risk of thyroid cancer (HR 1.75, 95% CI=1.14, 2.68), prostate cancer (HR=1.54, 95% CI=1.21,20131.97), breast cancer (HR=1.45, 95% CI=1.00, 2.09), and non-cervical gynecological cancer (HR=4.03, 95% CI=1.77, 9.17), compared with the general population. Conclusions: Physicians are at lower overall risk of cancer than the general population, apart from cancer of the thyroid, prostate, breast, and non-cervical gynecological cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-166
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Occupational Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - 05 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer incidence
  • Cohort study
  • Physician specialists


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