Male smokers are 2.4 to 4.3 times more likely to be missing Y chromosomes from the genetic information in their blood cells.
Researchers have found yet another way in which smoking is bad for health. A new study, published in the journal Science, looked at the genetic consequences of smoking on men. The study team notes that smoking tobacco is associated with a number of health risks beyond the respiratory tract, including cancer.
The study tries to explain why men who smoke have a greater likelihood of developing cancer than women. In particular, the study notes that there is a greater risk for men even for cancers that are not sex-specific. According to a press release, their findings show that smoking causes a loss of Y chromosomes. Male smokers are 2.4 to 4.3 times more likely to be missing Y chromosomes from the genetic information in their blood cells.
Medical News Today reports that these findings build on earlier research showing that loss of Y chromosomes is linked to detrimental health effects. Researchers believe that the Y chromosome contains around 50 to 60 genes that instruct the body to create protein. Deletion of genetic material from the Y chromosome is associated with infertility due to changes in the production of sperm. The Y chromosome also seems to play a role in tumor suppression.
Earlier this year, the research team published a study in Nature Genetics, indicating that partial loss of Y chromosomes in the blood is associated with a higher risk of developing cancer and a shorter survival expectation. This earlier study did not consider smoking, but simply the association between loss of Y chromosomes and mortality due to cancer. Researchers note that loss of Y chromosomes may become a predictor for cancer development in the future.