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Smoking Is Related with Loss of Y Chromosome from Cells


Image credit: Deviant via shutterstock. Smoking is worse for men than women because it destroys Y chromosomes

Public health authorities have launched the latest round of anti-smoking campaign, especially targeted on men, because the new discovery has demonstrated that smoking could erase the chromosomes which are capable of identifying genetic masculinity.

Recently, Lars Fosberg and Jan P. Dumanski together with a team from UppsalaUniversity had addressed the issue of why men were prone to development of more cancers which were seldom linked with reproductive organs. As a result, it was much possible for men to die of such cancers when they did have them.

The authors explained that although age-linked loss of chromosome Y was frequently seen in normal hematopoietic cells, its consequences were not fully understood so far.

In the discovery of Fosberg and Dumanski, the loss of Y chromosomes from blood cells happened in 8.2% of elderly men according to the sample collected from 1,153 and those affected would have life expectancies 5.5% shorter and three and half times the rate of cancer, after being got rid of haematological cancers.

Fosberg and Dumanski also added that such phenomena could offer a clear explanation regarding the reason why males would be affected by cancer more often, thus suggesting that chromosome Y was quite vital in processes beyond sex determination.

This would be naturally attributed to the issue explaining the cause that the body had lost Y chromosomes. In their paper presented to Science, Fosberg and Dumanski‘s team had showed that tobacco smoking would be one of the major answers to that question.

During their tests based on Body Mass Index, alcohol intake, diabetes, education and exercise, the team found that only smoking (and in one case age) would greatly increase Y chromosome loss in three separate group aged from 48 to 93. The authors also noted that it was by far the most common post-zygotic mutation discovered, happening in 12-16% of the samples aged 70 and over. Loss was 2.4-4.3 times as possibly for smokers and non smokers.

It was obvious that such effects would be increased with more cigarettes smoked. However, if one stopped smoking, the effects would be significantly reduced, or even ended, which suggested that there existed a dynamic and reversible process. This was confirmed by the current study that if smokers stopped smoking at the age from 25 to 34, their survival would be was similar to those who had never smoked.

This would be very supportive to the mysterious observation made before that based on epidemiological data, smoking was regarded as a greater risk factor causing these cancers in males in comparison of females.

At the moment, Fosberg and Dumanski‘s team were not certain about that the disappearance of Y chromosomes was cancer risk in itself, or just be thought as an incidental factor related to other genetic damage. Although one test demonstrated that the loss was most severe in cells which had played a role in the immune system, the scientists believed that Y chromosomes should have meant so much in battling with tumors.

In their newest move, the team has also established a startup, which could offer a blood test for elderly men concerning Y chromosome loss so as to give an early warning of cancer risk to these people.