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Some commentators have argued that physicians have duties to serve as role models for the general public in matters of health, for example by not smoking cigarettes. Indeed, in most western nations relatively few physicians smoke, and their professional knowledge does appear to have a beneficial effect on their health and lifestyle. According to a study of male physicians, life expectancy is slightly higher for physicians (73.0 years for white and 68.7 for black) than lawyers or many other highly educated professionals. Causes of death less likely in physicians than the general population include respiratory disease (including pneumonia, pneumoconioses, COPD, but excluding emphysema and other chronic airway obstruction), alcohol-related deaths, rectosigmoidal and anal cancers, and bacterial diseases.
However ... "By medicine life may be prolong'd, yet death will seize the Doctor too" (Cymbeline). Physicians do experience exposure to occupational hazards, and there is a well-known aphorism that "doctors make the worst patients". Causes of death that are shown to be higher in the physician population include suicide and self-inflicted injury, drug-related causes, traffic accidents, and cerebrovascular and ischaemic heart disease