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article imageWhy male and female smokers have different cancer rates

By Tim Sandle     Dec 7, 2014 in Health
Lund - Loss of the Y chromosome, a relatively common phenomenon among aging men, could help explain different rates of cancer between male and female smokers.
Researchers from Uppsala University in Sweden have found in three sets of men that smoking is associated with loss of the Y. These findings are according to a new paper published in Science, titled "Smoking is associated with mosaic loss of chromosome Y."
This conclusion was reached after an investigation of blood samples from more than 1,000 men. Here it was found that those with higher rates of chromosome Y loss tended to die younger and were more susceptible to a variety of cancers. A second analysis found that smoking behavior is strongly linked to the loss of the Y chromosome. This seems to be a relatively common occurrence.
Discussing the findings with The Scientist, cancer epidemiologist Ellen Chang of the Stanford School of Medicine said that the work “provides an interesting hypothesis for a biological mechanism that could contribute to the sex ratio in cancer.”
For the research, the Swedish scientists used single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array analysis to quantify the loss of the Y chromosome (LOY) in blood cells, and then tested for associations between LOY rates and factors such as age, education level, exercise habits, smoking, and cholesterol levels. Interestingly, the researchers found that former smokers had LOY rates similar to those of men who had never smoked. Data on smoking frequency also revealed that occasional smokers experienced less LOY than heavier smokers.
The findings could answer a long-standing puzzle: considerable epidemiological data demonstrates that men have higher overall cancer rates than women. This difference in risk is more than four-fold for some types of cancer. It could be that the answer lies in genetics.
More about Cancer, Smokers, Men, Women, Smoking
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