Loss of Y chromosome can explain shorter life expectancy and higher cancer risk for men

Jan Dumanski and Lars Forsberg. Credit: Mikael Wallerstedt

It is generally well known that men have an overall shorter life expectancy compared to women. A recent study, led by Uppsala University researchers, shows a correlation between a loss of the Y chromosome in blood cells and both a shorter life span and higher mortality from cancer in other organs.

Men have a shorter average life span than women and both the incidence and mortality in cancer is higher in men than in women. However, the mechanisms and possible risk factors behind this sex-disparity are largely unknown. Alterations in DNA of normal cells accumulate throughout our lives and have been linked to diseases such as cancer and diabetes.

In a study recently published in the journal Nature Genetics an international team of researchers have analysed the DNA in blood samples from a group of more than 1,600 elderly men. They found that the most common genetic alteration was a loss of the Y chromosome in a proportion of the .

The group of men was studied for many years and the researchers could detect a correlation between the loss of the Y chromosome and shorter survival.

"Men who had lost the Y chromosome in a large proportion of their had a lower survival, irrespective of cause of death. We could also detect a correlation between loss of the Y chromosome and risk of ", says Lars Forsberg, researcher at the Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology, Uppsala University, who has led the study.

The Y chromosome is only present in men and the genes contained on the Y chromosome have so far mostly been associated with sex determination and sperm production.

"You have probably heard before that the Y chromosome is small, insignificant and contains very little genetic information. This is not true. Our results indicate that the Y chromosome has a role in tumour suppression and they might explain why men get cancer more often than women. We believe that analyses of the Y chromosome could in the future become a useful general marker to predict the risk for to develop cancer", says Jan Dumanski, professor at the Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology, Uppsala University, and responsible for the study.

More information: Mosaic loss of chromosome Y in peripheral blood is associated with shorter survival and higher risk of cancer. Lars A. Forsberg et al. Nature Genetics. April 28th 2014. dx.doi.org/10.1038/ng.2966

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Gene link to higher rates of bowel cancer in men

Jun 01, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- Scientists have shown for the first time that one of the sex chromosomes is involved in the development of a cancer that can afflict both genders, according to a Cancer Research UK-funded ...

Fortunately for men, size doesn't matter (much)

Jan 10, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers from The Australian National University have discovered that the male-specific Y-chromosome is shrinking – and it’s happening at different rates across species.

Recommended for you

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

JVK
not rated yet Apr 29, 2014
"One straightforward hypothesis is that neurons with different genomes will have distinct molecular phenotypes because of altered transcriptional or epigenetic landscapes."
http://www.scienc...abstract

Perhaps it is time to consider that cell type differentiation is nutrient-dependent and pheromone-controlled in species from microbes to man, which is why there are sex differences in diseases and disorders. Duh!

This is not the magic of evolutionary theory in which mutations somehow cause natural selection to occur for something. It's the integration of physics, chemistry and conserved molecular mechanisms that explains biologically based cause and effect -- unless you are already an idiot minion of a biology teacher who taught you to believe in pseudoscientific nonsense.

http://figshare.c...s/994281

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.