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Do Left-Handed People Live Longer?

There are too many articles out there saying that we left-handers die earlier than our right-handed peers. Is that true? Well, we’re going to try to find out. Most articles about left-handers and their longevity seem to focus on the myths that we are stupid, clumsy, backward, and can’t adapt to life in the right-handed world. From life experience and making it to the age of fifty-two, I find that offensive. I’ve adapted pretty well to life as a left-hander. I’m deeply left-handed, meaning I do pretty much everything with my left hand. I can use my right hand as support, but there is only one thing I do right-handed: crochet. Anyway, that is getting off the subject. In this article, we want to find out if left-handers may live longer than their right-handed peers.

Studies on Left-Handed Longevity and Their Biases

There are studies out there done to prove that left-handers have shorter life spans than right-handers, but they have shortcomings and biases that make the truth hard to see. I’m not saying that it’s not possible left-handers have shorter life spans, but I am saying that perhaps a new type of study should happen. Many of these studies were decades ago. Why don’t researchers do long-term research on left-handers? Follow a thousand or so of us through our lives up to our deaths and then see how that turns out. One of these studies used people who passed away but came from a generation where many were forced to become right-handed to skew the study’s accuracy. Studies need to employ people who were born after that period.

An article by Diane Halpern written for Nature in 1988 states that a study done by Coren and Porac states that Thirteen percent of 20-year-olds are left-handed. That number went down to five percent of people in their fifties and then hardly anyone in their eighties or older. Porac and Coren believe that the absence of left-handers from the older age groups reflects higher biological and environmental risks. However, they didn’t consider that many older left-handers were discriminated against and forced to change from their left to their right hands as their dominant hand. Once upon a time, left-handers were considered flawed. That is a simple explanation, but it’s true. That fact seems to skew the finding of this research.

The same article skewed this information more because Coren and Porac looked at baseball players listed in The Baseball Encylopedia for those with dates of birth, death, throwing, and batting hand. The study added players to a list depending on the hand they used to pitch or bat with, but only if they didn’t switch hands during play. They had the correct information, but in professional baseball, the players are men. So this information had nothing on women. I would think that you’d need a well-rounded group of people to figure the actual number of early deaths in left-handers if it is indeed the case. Their findings stated that the mean age for 1472 right-handers was 64.64 years and for the 236 left-handers was 63.97. This difference in age of death is relatively small but look at the massive difference in the number of people in the study. That suggests this isn’t as accurate as the study authors would like.

Other researchers are skeptical of the results of these studies and agree that they aren’t accurate. Paul Satz of the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Medicine said, “It’s provocative, it’s hard to believe, and it should be viewed with extreme caution.” Five other researchers in the left-handedness field stated they were unconvinced. Psychologist Alan Searleman of St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, said, “I find this real hard to believe… It’s just so outrageous. If this were really true, it would have been noticed way before.”

It seems that the studies were done with a hurried approach and not well thought through. There are facts about left-handers left out of these. Yes, the left-hander has to adapt to living in a right-handed world, and the items they use in their daily lives are more likely to conform to right-handed use rather than left-handed. Also, there is the fact that at a specific time in our history, left-handers were persecuted just for favoring their left hand. During that time, many left-handers were forced to become right-handed. These two factors are left out of the studies done. These studies are also decades old. Perhaps it’s time for new research.


Does the information above say that left-handers live longer? No, not at all. However, the studies done appear to miss some data. There are left-handed facts left out of these studies. What I do know is that these decades-old studies need an update. As I stated above, perhaps a new study of left-handers should take place. Either researchers need to look at the deaths of left-handers after the period where they were forced to become right-handed. A true count of left-handers would help a new study. There are many facts and data that an investigation should include. Sure, a new study might still show that lefties die younger than righties, but what if it didn’t. Lefties would all feel better about their longevity. It would also be nice not to have scientists tell you you’re going to die young because you can use right-handed tools without hurting yourself or that you can’t drive and that if you get into an accident, you’re going to swerve into oncome traffic rather than away from it. So, what do you think? Is this article helpful? Let us know what you think below. We’d love to hear from you.

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