Left-Hander Longevity

07:31 Fri 16 May 2008
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For years I’ve seen the statistic quoted that left-handers live an average of nine years less than right-handers. As a lefty, this naturally concerns me, and today I finally got around to looking into it a little. Apparently it’s not true—at the least, there are differing results and no absolute conclusions.

A 1994 study shows a much smaller difference, around a year to a year-and-a-half, in favor of righties. This study included some people who were still alive, unlike the previous study that gave rise to the idea of a nine-year difference.

One problem with the study, though, is that it looks only at male athletes, specifically baseball players. It therefore says nothing about female left-handers, and it might also be unable to pick up on lefty weaknesses exposed by an inactive lifestyle, or problems that would lead to an earlier death and also prevent success as an athlete.

One of the hypotheses for why lefties die earlier is that we’re more susceptible to accidents since we’re in a right-handed world, and also that the stress of living in a world designed for righties decreases lifespan. These things are less likely to affect those who are well coordinated, however—and being a professional baseball player definitely requires excellent coordination. So the sample chosen might be affected very little by one of the possible causes of the purported discrepancy in lifespan…

Other studies also apparently refute the original “nine-year discrepancy” paper.

My reading of all this: the statistics are inconclusive, I should continue to do things that aid coordination and fitness, and I shouldn’t run while attempting to wield right-handed scissors with my left hand.

3 Responses to “Left-Hander Longevity”

  1. Unkie Dave Says:

    Interestingly enough I was reading an article this morning that pointed me to the Left Handed Guitarists website. Apparently there is a lot of lore about lefties making better musicians in spite of most instruments being designed for righties. The site is at http://www.lefthandedguitarists.com/ and there is a two volume coffee table book tracing the journey of leftie guitarists from the 1920′s to today.

  2. Tadhg Says:

    I don’t think I’ll go for that book, but I’ll feel free to assume that its existence is further proof of lefty supremacy.

  3. Unkie Dave Says:

    assume all you like, nobody in the real word worries about what lefties think anyway…

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