In final straw for left-handers, study finds life span cut 9 years

April 03, 1991|By Newsday

Southpaws face more than their share of woe living in a world that is biased to the right. Now there is a new worry: Scientists say they have found that left-handers die nine years sooner than right-handers.

"It is very scary," said Stanley Coren, a right-handed psychologist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

Dr. Coren and psychologist Diane F. Halpern of California State University in San Bernadino published their studies in the current New England Journal of Medicine and in the journal Psychological Bulletin in January.

The scientists examined the randomly selected death records of 987 people in Southern California and sent questionnaires about handed ness to relatives of the deceased. The researchers said that right-handers, about 94 percent of the group, died at an average age of 75, while the left-handers died at an average age of 66.

Dr. Coren said that the size of the group was statistically valid. He suspects that left-handed people die sooner because of the way the world is built: to accommodate right-handers. The researchers found that left-handers were six times more likely to die from an accident and four times more likely to die while driving a vehicle.

"Left-handers do not seem to fare as well in the constructed environment as do right-handers, because most tools, equipment and patterns of activity are predicated on right-handed operation or predispositions," the researchers said.

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