gms | German Medical Science

MAINZ//2011: 56. GMDS-Jahrestagung und 6. DGEpi-Jahrestagung

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie e. V.
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Epidemiologie e. V.

26. - 29.09.2011 in Mainz

Cancer incidence among priests – 45 years of follow-up in four Nordic countries

Meeting Abstract

  • Andreas Stang - Universität Halle, Halle
  • Jan Ivar Martinsen - Cancer Registry of Norway, Oslo
  • Kristina Kjaerheim - Cancer Registry of Norway, Oslo
  • Elisabete Weiderpass - Karolinska Institute, Stockholm
  • Pär Sparen - Karolinska Institute, Stockholm
  • Laufey Tryggvadottir - Icelandic Cancer Registry, Reykjavik
  • Eero Pukkala - Finnish Cancer Registry, Helsinki

Mainz//2011. 56. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie (gmds), 6. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Epidemiologie (DGEpi). Mainz, 26.-29.09.2011. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2011. Doc11gmds200

doi: 10.3205/11gmds200, urn:nbn:de:0183-11gmds2002

Veröffentlicht: 20. September 2011

© 2011 Stang et al.
Dieser Artikel ist ein Open Access-Artikel und steht unter den Creative Commons Lizenzbedingungen ( Er darf vervielfältigt, verbreitet und öffentlich zugänglich gemacht werden, vorausgesetzt dass Autor und Quelle genannt werden.



Objectives: Previously published studies on cancer risks among male priests were based on cancer mortality with the exception of one study. The aim of this study was to present cancer incidence estimates among Nordic male priests.

Methods: The study cohort for our analyses consisted of 6.5 million men aged 30-64 years participating in any computerised population census in three Nordic countries in 1990 or earlier [1]. Priests were identified by job title codes: 2,415 (58,500 person-years) from Finland, 2,018 (57,000 person-years) from Norway, 8,865 (234,000 person-years) from Sweden, and 103 (2,000 person-years) from Iceland. Follow-up was done by linkages with national population and cancer registries. Incident cancer cases were all invasive cancers and benign brain tumors. We estimated the standardized incidence ratio (SIR) and 95% confidence intervals (95%CI) using the male populations as reference.

Results: Priests had a lower cancer incidence than the general population (overall SIR 0.85, 95%CI: 0.82-0.88). The majority of smoking and alcohol-related cancers were associated with decreased SIR estimates. Increased risks were observed for skin melanoma (SIR 1.34, 95%CI: 1.11-1.62), acute myeloid leukemia (SIR 1.75, 95%CI: 1.20-2.47), and thyroid cancer (SIR 1.86, 95%CI: 1.22-2.73).

Conclusions: This is the first cohort study on the incidence of cancer among male priests. The decreased incidence of smoking and alcohol related cancers among priests is explained by the lower prevalence of these exposures among priests compared to the general population. The increased cancer risks remain to be explained and deserve further research.


Pukkala E, Martinsen JI, Lynge E, et al. Occupation and cancer – follow-up of 15 million people in five Nordic countries. Acta Oncol. 2009;48:646-790.