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A recent study suggests that smoking causes males to lose Y chromosomes, a modificaton that was previously attributed to old age.
Mainly this is due to the fact that men, as they age, begin to lose the Y chromosome from their body’s cells. This was considered a normal process of aging, but a new study published this December has shown that men who smoke lose more Y chromosomes than non smokers do, thus increasing the risk of cancer.
A less complicated explanation would be that the loss of Y chromosome is associated with cancer infection, and smoking is associated with the loss of Y chromosome.
A study led by Lars Forsberg, a researcher of Uppsala University in Sweden, suggests that male smokers are more exposed to the risk of cancer infection than female smokers, due to the fact that men have an X chromosome and a Y chromosome, while women have two X chromosomes. The Y chromosome in men determines the gender and ensures normal sperm production.
Detailed studies show that Y chromosome might have more roles than just to determine the male sex. Actually this chromosome contains a large number of genes, and according to researchers some of those genes may help to suppress tumors, even if their role is not fully understood yet.
Scientists call this a big leap in the male anatomy, saying that the “loss of Y chromosome may just be a marker for other chromosome damaged by smoking”.
Even so, the research into the significance of the Y chromosome is in its early stages and what experts cab determine from this is that smoking seems to be the cause of loss of this chromosome but they do not fully understand the significance of it.
In the study, that was conducted in three separate stages, there were 6000 older men. Scientists have analyzed blood samples from these people and discovered that over 15 percent of men over 70 years old had over 10 percent of their blood cells affected. Investigators found that the smokers showed four times the loss of Y chromosome than non-smokers.
Regarding the women that smoke, it seems they lose X chromosomes as they age but the health consequences are yet unknown.