The Y chromosome. Men have it. Women don’t. New results in genetic research may have revealed why men are more prone to smoking-related illnesses than women, and why they have a higher mortality rate than their female counterparts. Everyone knows that the Y chromosome is responsible for determining gender, but recent findings suggest it may also play a key role in the fight against cancer. These health studies, which took a variety of factors into account, including age, blood pressure, diabetes, and drinking, revealed that the red blood cells of male smokers lacked the Y chromosome, and that the likelihood of this occurring increased among those men with heavier smoking habits. It was also learned that those men who had kicked the habit did, in fact, regain their missing Y chromosomes.
“This discovery could be very persuasive for motivating smokers to quit,” Lars Forsberg, the head researcher at Finland’s Uppsala University, said in a statement.
NBC News reports that additional studies have proven that there is a higher likelihood of men contracting cancers, other than lung cancer, such as bladder cancer and colon cancer. The Y Chromosome is one of the smallest chromosomes in the human genome, and as such, is especially prone to mutations, so it is possible that the Y chromosome is simply more fragile than other chromosomes. These studies indicate that the Y chromosome, which holds between 50-60 genes responsible for providing the body with instructions for creating protein, suffers more genetic damage than had previously been believed.
“Our results indicate that the Y chromosome has a role in tumor suppression, and they might explain why men get cancer more often than women,” said Prof. Jan Dumanski of Uppsala University in Sweden.
The news for non-smokers and for those men who have successfully quit smoking is encouraging, suggests an article on Medical News Today. The loss of the Y chromosome is equally negligible in both former and non-smokers, although researchers admit there is more research needed. One goal of continued studies is for the research team to learn why the loss of the Y chromosome in blood cells is connected to the development of cancer throughout the body. Some researchers believe that the loss of the Y chromosome may impair the ability of white blood cells to fight cancer cells.
Related research indicates that soda consumption may affect aging in much the same way as cigarette smoking. Read the article here.