10 Hidden Dangers of Being Left-Handed

Updated: Feb. 19, 2021

Being left-handed can be inconvenient at times—but downright dangerous? Learn the hidden health risks all lefties face.

Lefty writes in clean notebook on white table top view. Left handed concept.
Julia Sudnitskaya/Shutterstock

The range of left-handed risks

Being left-handed comes with some shocking health concerns, from anxiety to breast cancer. What it is about being a leftie that makes a person more susceptible to these risks? “There is a famous creed in research that correlation does not equal causation,” says Eugene Charles, a New York-based chiropractor and director of The Applied Kinesiology Center of New York. In other words, being left-handed does not cause these health problems. However, studies have shown that left-handed individuals are more likely to be at risk for certain chronic conditions and even early death, so let’s dive in.


You’re at risk for an earlier death

We’re starting with the big one. Studies have shown that left-handed people tend to not live as long, possibly because they’re trying to maneuver their ways through a world designed for right-handed people. Everything from that right-handed desk you struggled with in freshman biology to how cars are built put lefties at a disadvantage. In fact, a study in The New England Journal of Medicine found that left-handed people are over five times more likely to die in a car accident than right-handers.

X-ray picture of a brain
Basov Mikhail/Shutterstock

You’re at risk for psychotic disorders

Writing with your left hand could mean that you’re more at risk for some serious psychiatric disorders. A 2013 study from Yale University looked at the handedness of patients in a mental health hospital. Researchers found that 40 percent of the schizophrenic patients reported writing with their left hands, as opposed to just 10 percent of the population. Being left-handed is also associated with dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Mammogram snapshot of breasts of a female patient on the monitor with undergoing mammography test on the background. Selective focus

You have a higher risk of breast cancer

We all need to be diligent with monthly cancer self-checks, but this is especially important if you’re left-handed. In a study in the British Journal of Cancer, researchers found that left-handers have a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer, especially after menopause, than right-handers do.

School backpack and sneakers on the floor in a home interior

You may struggle in school

If classes feel overwhelming for lefties, they’re not alone. A 2009 study in Demography found that left-handed children tend to not perform as well academically as their right-handed peers. Lefties scored lower in skills like reading, writing, social development, and vocabulary. This remained true when researchers controlled for variables like socioeconomic status and parental involvement. Here are more body parts that could determine how smart you are.

Portrait of a woman asleep

You may have restless sleep

If your partner opts to sleep on the couch rather than deal with your nighttime antics, here’s why: A study from the American College of Chest Physicians found that left-handers are more at risk for developing limb movement disorder. This disorder is characterized by the involuntary jerking of your arms and legs while you sleep.


You’re more likely to experience post-traumatic stress disorder

If you still refuse to watch thrillers like Get Out, blame it on your hand. According to a study in the Journal of Trauma and Stress, left-handers are more likely to express symptoms of post-traumatic stress after watching clips from a scary movie than righties. Lefties may also experience more negative emotions during and after the movie.

Piggy Bank, Savings, Currency

You may make less money

If scary movies don’t faze you, here’s something truly frightening: Simply writing with your left hand could mean you’re not going to make as much money as righties. According to a study in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, Harvard researchers found that left-handers’ salaries were about 9 to 19 percent lower than their right-handed colleagues. Left-handers were also more likely to skip to drop out of college. Luckily, these are the 7 ways lefties have advantages over righties.

Desperate african-american student sitting on stairs outdoors in university campus. Man raised hands to his head. Migraine, education and overworking concept, copy space

You could feel down more often

Does it ever feel like you have a hard time moving on from an argument or negative experience? It may be related to the way your brain is wired. According to a study in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, left-handed individuals are more prone to hanging onto negative emotions and needing longer to process their feelings.

Wine bottles on wooden table. Red, rose and white wine. Top view with space for your text
Evgeny Karandaev/Shutterstock

You may drink more alcohol

In the past, researchers believed that left-handed people were more prone to alcoholism than their right-handed peers. While this correlation hasn’t held up in the research, it does seem that lefties tend to drink more. According to a study published in The British Journal of Health Psychology, left-handers reported drinking more alcohol than righties. Just don’t fall for these myths about left-handed people we all need to stop believing.

Overhead view of female artist hands soiled with golden and violet paints on white background. Artist workspace concept.
Asya Nurullina/Shutterstock

What about the good stuff?

If you’ve read this far, you may be cursing your left-handedness right now. Don’t. There are also benefits to being in the 10 percent of lefties in the world. For example, the idea that left-handed people are more creative seems to be true. According to a study in the Journal of Mental and Nervous Disease, creative artists like writers and painters are more likely to be left-handed. Next, read up on 16 more surprising facts about left-handers.