Left-handed bowlers likely to die younger

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A STUDY of several thousand first-class cricketers has found that left-handed bowlers are more likely to die younger than their right-handed colleagues.

The research, which will be published later this year, contradicts another study published yesterday in the US showing there is no difference in the lifespans of left and right-handed people.

The American investigation looked at nearly 4,000 people over the age of 65 and recorded all deaths over a period of six years. The researchers, from the US National Institute on Aging, found the risk of death was the same for left- and right-handers.

However, psychologists at Durham University analysed the lifespans of about 3,000 bowlers listed in the Who's Who of Cricketers, which describes first-class players from 1864 to 1983. They found that left-handed bowlers had an average lifespan of 63.5 years, compared with 65.5 years of their right-handed colleagues.

They also looked at the percentage of players born between 1880 and 1950 who were still alive: right-handers were more likely than left-handers to have survived and left-handers were more likely to have died suddenly. John Aggleton, a senior lecturer in psychology at Durham, said the results were 'highly significant' and could not have been due to chance alone. 'Left-handers are more likely to die prematurely or accidentally,' he said. 'There is definitely something going on.'

The researchers found that a greater proportion of the left- handed cricketers died suddenly in early life. Because the study period included both world wars, many died in combat.

Their study concluded: 'The most likely explanation for the increase in accidental death among the left-handed men concerns their need to cope with a world full of right-handed tools, machines and instruments.'

Other scientists, however, have criticised similar studies because they have failed to take into account the pre-war tradition of forcing naturally left-handed children to become right handers. This could make it appear that right-handed people have an advantage and live longer.