Handedness and mortality risk in older women

James R Cerhan, Aaron R. Folsom, John D. Potter, Ronald J. Prineas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Scopus citations


Left-handedness has been associated with decreased longevity, although this finding is controversial and not universal. The authors prospectively studied 39,691 women aged 55-69 years from the Iowa Women's Health Study through 5 years of mortality follow-up. No increase in mortality risk was found for left-handed women as compared with right-handed women (age-adjusted hazard ratio 1.10, 95% confidence interval (Cl) 0.86-1.39) or for ambidextrous women (age-adjusted hazard ratio 1.05, 95% Cl 0.73-1.49). Adjustment for body mass index, body fat distribution, smoking, and education did not alter these findings. Further analysis by cause-specific mortality (breast cancer, all other cancer, and circulatory disease) showed no relation to handedness. There was no difference in the mean age at death of left-handed, right-handed, and ambidextrous women. These findings do not support an association between left-handedness and increased mortality risk. Am J Epidemiol 1994;140:368-74.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)368-374
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 15 1994
Externally publishedYes



  • Aging
  • Cohort studies
  • Laterality
  • Mortality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Epidemiology

Cite this

Cerhan, J. R., Folsom, A. R., Potter, J. D., & Prineas, R. J. (1994). Handedness and mortality risk in older women. American Journal of Epidemiology, 140(4), 368-374.