International Lefthanders Day: Is There More Danger Associated With Being Left-Handed?
Are you left-handed? If you’re part of the 10% of the world’s population that favors your left hand, you’re probably used to some of the everyday plights, like struggling to use objects that were designed for the right-handed majority. You’re probably also heard that left-handed people tend to die earlier deaths. Is there any truth to this? Does using a certain hand put you at a greater risk of danger and death?
What Does It Mean To Be Left-Handed?
Whether you favor your left or right hand is probably a matter of genetics. According to an article published in Scientific American, individuals who primarily used the left hemisphere of their brain—the one that controls speech, language, and the right hand—were more likely to come out on top when it came to natural selection. Over time, humans evolved to reflect this, which is why around 85% of people are right-handed. None of this means that lefties are evolutionarily inferior, though! People who favor their left hand are believed to be better at complex reasoning, tend to make better athletes and artists, and go on to become richer than their right-handed peers. They’re also in very good company, as famous lefties include Benjamin Franklin, Michelangelo, and Henry Ford.
The Risks of Being a Leftie
Despite all that, there is still plenty of stigma and superstition surrounding left-handed people, like the myth that left-handed people are more likely to die at an earlier age. However, there might be a dash of truth to the myth. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that right-handed people lived to be an average of 75 years old. Left-handed people typically died around the age of 66. Left-handed people are also five times more likely to die in accidents than right-handed people.
A lot of the danger to left-handed people can be blamed on the way our world is designed. Most things in life are built for the ease and comfort of right-handed people, but can force left-handers into precarious situations. For example, someone who is left-handed might be forced to rely on their weaker right hand when driving. For the same reasons, left-handed people are also more likely to suffer from minor accidents, like cutting themselves while cooking.
Pros and Cons
Left-handedness is also more linked with an increased risk of psychotic mental illnesses, breast cancer, and learning disabilities. But when it comes to health, it’s not all bad! One positive health advantage is a greater chance of success during physical recovery after a stroke. Because left-handers are often forced to adapt to using both side of their brain, it is easier for them to recover.
For left-handed people, the stigma and everyday struggles might seem like a curse. But at least they can take comfort in knowing that they’re very unique!
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