Smoking men lose male chromosomes
A new study in Sweden suggests that men who smoke have fewer Y chromosome cells in their blood and that that may put them at higher risk of developing cancer than women who smoke.
The research team cross-analyzed blood samples with health data from over 6,000 men for the study, published in the journal, Science. The men were already participating in blood studies in Sweden, and were given additional questions on smoking, exercise, blood pressure and alcohol use.
Researchers found that of all the health factors, smoking was the only one associated with loss of the Y chromosome cells. Researchers also found that age had an effect. Men older than 70 lost 15.4 percent of their Y chromosome cells, while men younger than 70 only lost 4.1 percents.
Y chromosome levels in men who had successfully quit smoking, were “indistinguishable” from those who had never smoked, according to the research.
More research still needs to be done to prove a more direct link between cigarettes and and Y chromosome loss, but researchers believe missing chromosomes may impair the ability of a smoker’s immune system to fight diseases like cancer. Next steps include studying individual immune cell types, to see which is most affected by smoking and chromosome loss.