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Lefty Cancer Risk

October 19, 2005

A new study found that lefthanded women are more than twice as likely to develop breast cancer before menopause. But should they worry?

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
Should lefthanded women worry? I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Researchers in the Netherlands recently found that left-handed women had a higher risk of breast cancer than other women. But according to the lead author of the study, epidemiologist Cuno Uiterwaal there’s no reason to panic.

CUNO UITERWAAL (Epidemiologist):
We feel that the evidence is building, but we have to know a lot, lot more before we could even think about practical consequences for women.

HIRSHON:
Most of the women affected were in a low-risk category—those who were premenopausal and not overweight. So, even with the added risk, lefthanders still had only a very small chance of actually getting breast cancer. The researchers speculate that hormone levels in the womb may contribute to both left-handedness and a higher risk for breast cancer, but this too requires further study.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.