Left-Handed People More Likely To Have Thin Faces, But Also Have Higher Risk Of Developing TB

Being left-handed carries a lot of unnecessary stigma. Throughout generations, there have been myriad myths about southpaws going around, and it still isn't uncommon in some cultures for children born left-handed to be turned into righties. And while there have also been certain conditions or traits that research has mainly associated with lefties, a new study suggests another rather peculiar connection — left-handed people tend to have more slender-looking faces, and may even be more susceptible to tuberculosis.

That was the main takeaway from a study led by University of Washington School of Dentistry researcher Philippe Hujoel, who observed that people with slender lower faces are 25 percent more likely to be left-handed. And while it would seem that these people have nothing to worry about — having a thin face usually shouldn't be a matter of concern — the study also observed that these people were also more likely to have an overbite and worse, have a greater chance of contracting tuberculosis.

According to Medical News Today, tuberculosis is an infectious disease that stands out as the second largest killer globally among diseases caused by only one infectious agent. While this lung disease is no longer as prevalent as it used to be in previous centuries, TB rates spiked multiple times in recent years. Based on 2015 statistics, about 1.8 million people died from TB out of approximately 10.4 million who contracted the disease that year.

Meanwhile, approximately 10 to 15 percent of the world's population is left-handed, while about 20 percent of Americans, in particular, have slender jawlines.

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Medical Daily quoted Hujoel, who believes his study on left-handed people meshes with data pointing to the United Kingdom — an area where people tend to have slender faces — having among the highest rates of tuberculosis in Western Europe. On the other hand, populations with pudgier faces, such as the Eskimos, usually have a low rate of TB. He believes that all three conditions — left-handedness, slenderness of jaw, and susceptibility to TB — may potentially be linked to each other.

"Almost 2,000 years ago a Greek physician was first to identify slender jaws as a marker for TB susceptibility, and he turned out to be right! Twentieth-century studies confirmed his clinical observations, as slender facial features became recognized as one aspect of a slender physique of a TB-susceptible person. The low body weight of this slender physique is still today recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a marker for TB susceptibility."
For the purposes of the study, which was published this week in the journal Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition, Hujoel and his colleagues from the University of Washington looked at three different U.S. surveys, with a total of 13,536 participants across all three.
Although the seeming link between left-handedness and slender faces/tuberculosis is a strange but troublesome one, this isn't the first time being a southpaw has been associated with unfortunate tendencies. Although many lefties tend to be more creative, Yahoo Beauty wrote that left-handed people have also been said to be more likely to develop drinking problems or die at a younger age.

For an example of the supposed link between left-handedness and heavy drinking, a 2010 meta-analysis found out that lefties, while not necessarily more prone to risky drinking habits, drink more often on average than right-handed people. According to the British Psychological Society Research Digest, some experts associated this trend to the pressures left-handed people deal with while living in a world dominated by righties.

As for the latter belief that lefties die younger than righties, this was debunked by a 2013 study, which, wrote BBC News, pointed out a mistake from a late 1980s study that only looked at the age of people at the time of their death, but not the age of left- and right-handers who were alive at the time of the research.

Does the new UW study mean left-handed people are probably doomed to have a higher risk of tuberculosis than their right-handed counterparts? According to Medical Daily, the findings may be nothing more than a coincidence – more research may be needed to determine whether left-handedness does indeed go hand-in-hand more often than usual with having a thin face or being susceptible to TB.

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