A recent article in The Verge talks about a study that has shown a link between smoking and the Y chromosome – that’s the ‘manly’ one.
One of the co-authors of the study, Lars Forsberg from Uppsala University explains that “male smokers are at greater risk for loss of Y.”
This preliminary finding is alarming because the same group of researchers previously linked the loss of Y chromosomes in blood to shorter life expectancies in men and an increase in non-blood-related cancers.
The researchers looked at 6000 men over a period of time. At the beginning of the study they had normal levels of the Y chromosome.
The Y chromosome is the one that only men have and low levels of it is linked with a shorter life expectancy and an increase in some cancers.
The study found that the more the men smoked, the greater the loss of Y chromosome and that if they stopped smoking the effect was reversed.
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Some scientists who did not take place in the study also had some comments to make. Daniel Bellot from MIT said that if this association is proved to be true then he thinks that ‘it provides more evidence that smoking can cause cancer by a second mechanism’. By this he means that lung cancer might be caused not only by the chemicals in smoke but also by the Y chromosome changes.
Robert Benezra from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre wants to see more research taking place with a view to ‘more stringent screening of smokers’.
Forsberg is keen to encourage men to rethink their smoking habits, knowing it messes with your DNA might make some men pause and think before lighting up.