Journal of Neuro-Oncology

, Volume 137, Issue 3, pp 639–644 | Cite as

Handedness and the risk of glioma

  • Briana Miller
  • Noah C. Peeri
  • Louis Burt Nabors
  • Jordan H. Creed
  • Zachary J. Thompson
  • Carrie M. Rozmeski
  • Renato V. LaRocca
  • Sajeel Chowdhary
  • Jeffrey J. Olson
  • Reid C. Thompson
  • Kathleen M. Egan
Clinical Study


Gliomas are the most common type of malignant primary brain tumor and few risk factors have been linked to their development. Handedness has been associated with several pathologic neurological conditions such as schizophrenia, autism, and epilepsy, but few studies have evaluated a connection between handedness and risk of glioma. In this study, we examined the relationship between handedness and glioma risk in a large case–control study (1849 glioma cases and 1354 healthy controls) and a prospective cohort study (326,475 subjects with 375 incident gliomas). In the case–control study, we found a significant inverse association between left handedness and glioma risk, with left-handed persons exhibiting a 35% reduction in the risk of developing glioma [odds ratio (OR) = 0.65, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.51–0.83] after adjustment for age, gender, race, education, and state of residence; similar inverse associations were observed for GBM (OR = 0.69, 95% CI 0.52–0.91), and non-GBM (OR = 0.59, 95% CI 0.42–0.82) subgroups. The association was consistent in both males and females, and across age strata, and was observed in both glioblastoma and in lower grade tumors. In the prospective cohort study, we found no association between handedness and glioma risk (hazards ratio = 0.92, 95% CI 0.67–1.28) adjusting for age, gender, and race. Further studies on this association may help to elucidate mechanisms of pathogenesis in glioma.


Case–control study Cohort study Glioma Glioblastoma Handedness UKBiobank 



The research is based in part on the UK Biobank Resource under application number 16944. The work was supported by the National Institutes of Health [Grant Number R01 CA116174]. This research was also funded in part by the National Cancer Institute through the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Cancer Research Experiences for Students [Grant Number R25Ca076023-17].

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

11060_2018_2759_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (34 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 34 KB)


  1. 1.
    Ostrom QT, Gittleman H, Xu J, Kromer C, Wolinsky Y, Kruchko C, Barnholtz-Sloan JS (2016) CBTRUS statistical report: primary brain and other central nervous system tumors diagnosed in the United States in 2009–2013. Neuro Oncol 18:v1–v75. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Efird JT, Friedman GD, Sidney S, Klatsky A, Habel LA, Udaltsova NV, Van den Eeden S, Nelson LM (2004) The risk for malignant primary adult-onset glioma in a large, multiethnic, managed-care cohort: cigarette smoking and other lifestyle behaviors. J Neurooncol 68:57–69CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Braganza MZ, Kitahara CM, Berrington de Gonzalez A, Inskip PD, Johnson KJ, Rajaraman P (2012) Ionizing radiation and the risk of brain and central nervous system tumors: a systematic review. Neuro Oncol 14:1316–1324. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Little RB, Nabors LB, Olson JJ, Thompson ZJ, Rozmeski CM, LaRocca RV, Forsyth PA, Thompson RC, Oster RA, Chowdhary SA, Egan KM (2017) Older age at the completion of linear growth is associated with an increased risk of adult glioma. Cancer Causes Control 28:709–716. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Anic GM, Madden MH, Nabors LB, Olson JJ, LaRocca RV, Thompson ZJ, Pamnani SJ, Forsyth PA, Thompson RC, Egan KM (2014) Reproductive factors and risk of primary brain tumors in women. J Neurooncol 118:297–304. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Moore SC, Rajaraman P, Dubrow R, Darefsky AS, Koebnick C, Hollenbeck A, Schatzkin A, Leitzmann MF (2009) Height, body mass index, and physical activity in relation to glioma risk. Cancer Res 69:8349–8355. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Barchana M, Margaliot M, Liphshitz I (2012) Changes in brain glioma incidence and laterality correlates with use of mobile phones—a nationwide population based study in Israel. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev 13:5857–5863CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Zada G, Bond AE, Wang YP, Giannotta SL, Deapen D (2012) Incidence trends in the anatomic location of primary malignant brain tumors in the United States: 1992–2006. World Neurosurg 77:518–524. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Gilbert AN, Wysocki CJ (1992) Hand preference and age in the United States. Neuropsychologia 30:601–608CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Papadatou-Pastou M, Martin M, Munafò MR, Jones GV (2008) Sex differences in left-handedness: a meta-analysis of 144 studies. Psychol Bull 134:677–699. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Hepper PG, McCartney GR, Shannon EA (1998) Lateralised behaviour in first trimester human foetuses. Neuropsychologia 36:531–534CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Knecht S, Dräger B, Deppe M, Bobe L, Lohmann H, Flöel A, Ringelstein EB, Henningsen H (2000) Handedness and hemispheric language dominance in healthy humans. Brain 123(Pt 12):2512–2518CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    McKeever WF (2000) A new family handedness sample with findings consistent with X-linked transmission. Br J Psychol 91(Pt 1):21–39CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Medland SE, Duffy DL, Wright MJ, Geffen GM, Martin NG (2006) Handedness in twins: joint analysis of data from 35 samples. Twin Res Hum Genet 9:46–53. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Ocklenburg S, Beste C, Güntürkün O (2013) Handedness: a neurogenetic shift of perspective. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 37:2788–2793. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Geschwind N, Galaburda AM (1985) Cerebral lateralization. Biological mechanisms, associations, and pathology: III. A hypothesis and a program for research. Arch Neurol 42:634–654CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Witelson SF, Nowakowski RS (1991) Left out axons make men right: a hypothesis for the origin of handedness and functional asymmetry. Neuropsychologia 29:327–333CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Vuoksimaa E, Eriksson CJ, Pulkkinen L, Rose RJ, Kaprio J (2010) Decreased prevalence of left-handedness among females with male co-twins: evidence suggesting prenatal testosterone transfer in humans? Psychoneuroendocrinology 35:1462–1472. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Smith LL, Hines M (2000) Language lateralization and handedness in women prenatally exposed to diethylstilbestrol (DES). Psychoneuroendocrinology 25:497–512CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Dollfus S, Alary M, Razafimandimby A, Prelipceanu D, Rybakowski JK, Davidson M, Galderisi S, Libiger J, Hranov LG, Hummer M, Boter H, Peuskens J, Kahn RS, Fleischhacker WW, Group E (2012) Familial sinistrality and handedness in patients with first episode schizophrenia: the EUFEST study. Laterality 17:217–224. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Gillberg C (1983) Autistic children’s hand preferences: results from an epidemiological study of infantile autism. Psychiatry Res 10:21–30CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Kim H, Yi S, Son EI, Kim J (2001) Evidence for the pathological right-handedness hypothesis. Neuropsychology 15:510–515CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Altundag K, Isik M, Sever AR (2016) Handedness and breast cancer characteristics. J BUON 21:576–579PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Inskip PD, Tarone RE, Brenner AV, Fine HA, Black PM, Shapiro WR, Selker RG, Linet MS (2003) Handedness and risk of brain tumors in adults. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 12:223–225PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Collins R (2012) What makes UKBiobank special? Lancet 379:1173–1174. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Ganna A, Ingelsson E (2015) 5 year mortality predictors in 498,103 UK Biobank participants: a prospective population-based study. Lancet 386:533–540. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Louis DN, Ohgaki H, Wiestler OD, Cavenee WK, Burger PC, Jouvet A, Scheithauer BW, Kleihues P (2007) The 2007 WHO classification of tumours of the central nervous system. Acta Neuropathol 114:97–109. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Louis DN, Perry A, Reifenberger G, von Deimling A, Figarella-Branger D, Cavenee WK, Ohgaki H, Wiestler OD, Kleihues P, Ellison DW (2016) The 2016 World Health Organization Classification of Tumors of the Central Nervous System: a summary. Acta Neuropathol 131:803–820. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Briana Miller
    • 1
  • Noah C. Peeri
    • 2
  • Louis Burt Nabors
    • 1
  • Jordan H. Creed
    • 2
  • Zachary J. Thompson
    • 3
  • Carrie M. Rozmeski
    • 2
  • Renato V. LaRocca
    • 4
  • Sajeel Chowdhary
    • 5
  • Jeffrey J. Olson
    • 6
  • Reid C. Thompson
    • 7
  • Kathleen M. Egan
    • 2
  1. 1.Neuro-Oncology ProgramUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamBirminghamUSA
  2. 2.Department of Cancer EpidemiologyH. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research InstituteTampaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Biostatistics and BioinformaticsH. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research InstituteTampaUSA
  4. 4.Norton Cancer InstituteLouisvilleUSA
  5. 5.Neuro-Oncology Program, Lynn Cancer InstituteBoca RatonUSA
  6. 6.Department of NeurosurgeryEmory University School of MedicineAtlantaUSA
  7. 7.Department of Neurological SurgeryVanderbilt University Medical CenterNashvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations