Smoking causes epigenetic changes in the Y chromosome in men.

ychSmoking has been linked to one of the biggest early for developing . Now a new study has emerged specifying that smoking can cause the the loss of the Y chromosome in blood cells affected by the frequency of smoking. Generally people have 46 chromosomes in their cells, and two of these are sex chromosomes. Females have two X chromosomes, whereas males have one X and one Y. It is believed that the Y chromosome contains around 50-60 genes that provide the body with instructions for creating .

Only men have the Y chromosome, which “may in part explain why men in general have a shorter life span than women, and why smoking is more dangerous for men,” said lead Prof. Jan Dumanski, of Uppsala University in Sweden.

Previous has demonstrated a sex difference in smoke related with male smokers are more likely to develop outside of the respiratory tract than female smokers. The current study explains the sex difference by establishing a between smoking and damage that only affects men.

‘We have previously in 2014 demonstrated an association between loss of the Y chromosome in blood and greater for . We now tested if there were any lifestyle or clinical factors that could be linked to loss of the Y chromosome,” said Lars Forsberg, another of the researchers.

“Our results indicate that the Y chromosome has a role in tumor suppression, and they might explain why men get more often than women,” said Prof. Dumanski, regarding the previous study published in Nature Genetics.

The Y chromosome loss was dose dependent based on the amount of smoking. Men who had quit smoking experienced the same level of Y chromosome loss as men who had never smoked.

“These results indicate that smoking can cause loss of the Y chromosome and that this process might be reversible. We found that the frequency of cells with loss of the Y chromosome was not different among ex-smokers compared to men who had never smoked.”


Smoking is associated with mosaic loss of chromosome Y, Jan Dumanski, et al., Science, published online 4 December 2014, abstract.,8&typ=pm&na=&lang=en

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