Seems like Y chromosomes keep us alive, said the team

By on May 3, 2014

Men die early, a very commonly heard phrase. On an average, women live 5 years longer than men, estimated by US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Now scientists are claiming that they have found a medical ‘Logic’ behind it, stating that loss of Y chromosome in blood cells prone men to have decreased longevity and higher deaths from cancer.

The researchers publish the results of their latest findings in the journal Nature Genetics.

This research was published in the journal Nature Genetics, conducted by, in collaboration of four Swedish universities – known as Sciifelab – scientists from Karolinska Institutet, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm

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University and Uppsala University worked together on the study.

While noticing the epidemiology of death among both sexes, researchers found out that this is a global phenomenon, not just restricted to US, women tends to live longer and men have shorter life and the death rated due to cancer are high in male gender.

To dig beneath the apparent condition, researchers investigated over 16,00 elderly men by analyzing the DNA in their blood samples.

Less Y chromosomes = Shorter male (Y) life

Having been stated over years, that some diseases occur most frequently in men than women and that Y chromosome is only related to sex determination in intra-natal period. It seems like the latter part was underestimated badly. After investigating hundreds of men over years, researchers found that the most common genetic alteration which leads men to have certain diseases and cancers is the loss of Y chromosome (LOY) in the WBCs.

Further, they devised that shorter life and LOY are interlinked, independent of the cause of death.

“We could also detect a correlation between loss of the Y chromosome and risk of cancer mortality,” says Lars Forsberg, lead researcher from Uppsala University.

Commenting on their findings, Prof. Jan Dumanski, from the Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology at Uppsala University, says:

“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 tumor suppression, and they might explain why men get cancer more often than women.”

The researchers believe that future analyses

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of the Y chromosome could “become a useful general marker to predict the risk for men to develop cancer,” he adds.

Speaking with media, Prof. Dumanski said:

“Loss of Y can already today be considered a strong marker of male carcinogenesis, although our results should be repeated in a much larger cohort; and that is what we are doing.”

He added that LOY could become an even stronger marker, “once we identify a specific subpopulation of immune cells which are responsible for its effect on carcinogenesis in other tissues/organs.”


About Marzia Tahir

Marzia Tahir is a 3rd year medical student at ‘Dow University of Health Sciences’ who is passionate about serving her fellow humans in every way she can. She is enthusiastic about learning new medical breakthroughs regarding different diseases and their treatment. Her interests include psychology, behavioral sciences and pediatrics. She is an active medical journalist who keeps herself updated with latest discoveries in medicine and enjoys writing about them on Doctors Know Best.

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