The epidemiology of left-handedness in a hospital population

Stellman, Steven D.; Wynder, Ernst L.; DeRose, David J.; Muscat, Joshua E.

PURPOSE: We evaluated the association between left-handedness (LH) and age, education, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, and disease status in a case-control study of 8801 hospitalized patients with cancer and those with other conditions. METHODS: Subjects were interviewed in person using a structured questionnaire that contained detailed sections of lifestyle behaviors. RESULTS: The overall prevalences of LH were 7.6% among men and 6.5% among women. Among both sexes LH declined with increasing age (p > 0.05). After adjustment for age, the following associations were observed. Men had a higher risk of LH than women. The prevalence of LH was lower in ever-married subjects compared with never-married subjects (odds ratio [OR] for men, 0.7; 95% confidence intervals [CI], 0.5-0.9; for women, OR, 0.5; 95% CI, 0.3-0.9). Among men, the prevalence of LH was not associated with race, years of education, smoking status, or levels of alcohol consumption. The risk of LH was elevated in men diagnosed with fractures as compared with all other male patients (OR, 2.4; 95% CI, 1.3-6.7). Among women, LH was not associated with race, smoking, or hormonal and reproductive factors, but LH was more common among female high-school and college graduates and among self-reported alcoholics. The odds ratio of LH was significantly lower in women with breast cancer (OR, 0.3; 95% CI, 0.1-0.7). CONCLUSIONS: The increased risk of serious injuries in LH IS not a result of higher alcohol use. Handedness might be an important factor in the safe use of industrial equipment.


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Annals of Epidemiology

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December 5, 2014