Although consequences are not yet clear, experts suspect that the change may be as a result of increased cancer risk.
Gentlemen who smoke are likely to see their Y chromosomes vanish as they continue to grow older. This is according to a new study.
All along, scientists have always known that as guys grow older; their Y chromosomes may start to disappear from certain cells of their body. At first, this was believed to be a normal aging process.
However, recent research has suggested that “the disappearance of Y chromosomes may not be so benign. According to a study reported earlier in the year, researchers were able to link the disappearance of “Y” to a short life span and the increased rate of cancer related deaths.
In addition, this latest study that was published online on 4th December in science adds to those findings. It found that old men who typically smoke lose more Y’ from their body cells compared to the number of “Y” lost by their non-smoker counterparts.
This finding hints at a possible explanation for why men-smokers are likely to face high risk of cancer compared to female smokers. This is according to Lars Forsberg who is a lead researcher at the Uppsala University.
“There are male smokers who do not exhibit the disappearance in Y chromosomes, and non-smoker men who do,” Forsberg observes – “Just like some smokers do not develop cancer, and some non-smokers do”.
“But overall”, he adds, “smoking is linked to the loss of Y chromosomes & loss of “Y” is linked to cancer.” Guys have an X and Y chromosomes. Women on the other hand have 2 X chromosomes. Experts used to believe that Y- stumpy and shorter compared to the X- did little more than just to determine male sex as well as to ensure normal production of sperm.
“The bottom 2/3 of the “Y” was seen as a mere repetitive DNA that does not code for anything”, says Dr. Martin Bailer, medical geneticist at the North Shore-LIJ Health System in New York.
“But now, we are beginning to think it might have more significant roles than just mere determining sex- though this is a pretty important one”, says Bailer, who wasn’t involved in the study.
According to a recent research, Y chromosomes actually have a larger number of genes. Their roles have not been completely understood, however a couple of genes might assist in suppressing tumors. This is according to Forsberg’s team.
This is how bad smoking may be to men’s Y chromosomes and health in general.