Anatomy And Physiology

Do Left Handed People actually have Shorter Lifespans



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Do left-handed people really tend to have a shorter life expectancy than their right-handed counterparts? This depends on whom you ask. Studies in the past have suggested this, but others claim that regardless of one's preference, there is no concrete evidence to prove it.

Most people are trained to use their right hand from a very early age. In fact, about 90% will end up being right-handed as opposed to being "southpaws." Regardless of any skepticism, the notion of left-handed individuals having shorter lifespans has been around for a long time. However, here is something to take into consideration, and it involves simple math: Because only 10% of the population is left-handed, the sheer numbers of right-handed people will always be far greater. As people age, the left-handed segment of a population will decrease. For example, within a large group of young adults, one may find that 10-15 percent of them will be left-handed. However, the older people get, the lower these percentages become. If you put a group of 50-year-olds together, the lefties will drop to around 5 percent. Among those over the age of 80, only about 1 percent will be left-handed. But ... does this prove that left-handed people will die sooner?

Another factor to to take into consideration is that, since the overwhelming majority of people are right-handed, tools are going to be designed for them. Could it be that since dangerous power tools are designed with right-handed people in mind, lefties are more prone to accidents? While certainly not applicable everywhere, many cars are built with left-hand drive, but this means that the floor shifter will be operated with the right hand. Thus, left-handed drivers must change gears with their weaker, non-dominant hand. Of course, in England, Japan and a few other countries, vehicles are reversed and right-handed people would have the same issue, but could this equate to a higher accident rate among lefties in larger-populated nations like the United States? A study of 1,000 people conducted in California seems to lead one to believe this and even went on to estimate that right-handed people live an average of 9 years longer.

A few medical studies have even claimed that cancer and heart/blood vessel disease occur more often in those who are left-handed. Most notably, a study in 2007 concluded that left-handed females had higher rates of colorectal cancer and vascular disease than those who were right-handed. Another study in 2008 suggested that among the elderly, higher incidences of heart disease occurred among the left-handed. Two isolated works of research won't prove that lefties have shorter lifespans, but, to the lay person, it could certainly appear that way.

In other instances, studies have shown the left-handed people either live even longer than right-handed people, ot that it makes no difference at all. So who are you going to believe? It's quite amusing when research cites that a particular group of people are at a higher risk of death because everyone has the same risk. That, by the way, is 100 percent. It's the amount of time you have before the inevitable happens. It would seem that much more research will have to take place before this theory of lefties dying sooner than righties can ever be substantiated. While it's certainly a possibility, the differences in overall life expectancy are very likely nominal and shouldn't be something to lose sleep over.

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  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.reuters.com/article/2007/05/01/us-left-handed-idUSCOL14739020070501