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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?


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.

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.