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Handedness and longevity: archival study of cricketers

BMJ 1994; 309 doi: (Published 24 December 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;309:1681
  1. John P Aggleton,
  2. J Martin Bland,
  3. Robert W Kentridge,
  4. Nicholas J Neave
  1. Department of Psychology, University of Durham, Durham DH1 3LE. Department of Public Health Sciences, St George's Hospital Medical School, London SW17 0RE.
  1. Correspondence to: Professor Aggleton, School of Psychology, University of Wales, College of Cardiff, PO Box 901, Cardiff CF1 3YG.


    Objective: To test whether handedness is associated with a change in longevity.

    Design: Archival survey.

    Setting: British Isles. Subjects—All first class cricketers born before 1961 whose bowling hand was specified (right, n=5041; left, n=1132) in a comprehensive encyclopaedia.

    Main outcome measures: Bowling hand and life span.

    Results: Regression analysis of the 5960 players born between 1840 and 1960 (3387 dead, 2573 alive) showed no significant relation between mortality and handedness (P=0.3). Left handedness was, however, associated with an increased likelihood of death from unnatural causes (P=0.03, log hazard 0.37, 95% confidence interval 0.04 to 0.70). This effect was especially related to deaths during warfare (P=0.009, log hazard 0.53, 0.13 to 0.92).

    Conclusion: Left handedness is not, in general, associated with an increase in mortality.

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