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Y chromosome loss puts men at higher cancer risk: Study

Posted on Apr 29 2014 | IANS

London, April 29 : Loss of Y chromosome, says a study, could explain shorter life expectancy and higher cancer risk for men.

Researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden have shown 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 who had lost the Y chromosome in a large proportion of their blood cells had a lower survival, irrespective of cause of death. We could also detect a correlation between loss of the Y chromosome and risk of cancer mortality," explained Lars Forsberg, a researcher at department of immunology, genetics and pathology at Uppsala University.

To reach this conclusion, researchers 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 white blood cells.

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

The 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 men to develop cancer", added Jan Dumanski, a professor at Uppsala University.

The study was published in the journal Nature Genetics.

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