According to a latest study, DNA differences between women and men can now explain why the risk of cancer is higher in men. In the recent findings that were published in the Journal of the National cancer Institute, researchers have reported that the loss of functions in certain genes of the sex-determining Y chromosomes (that are present only in men), may cause them to have an elevated risk of cancer. Using the data from 9,000 individuals, the researchers studied the Y chromosome gene functions in patients with various types of cancer. The study showed that the risk of cancer increases with the loss of function of the six key Y chromosome genes in various types of cells.
Juan Ramon Gonzalez, a study author from the Barcelona Institute of Global Health in Spain said – “Recent studies have shown that complete loss of the Y chromosome, which is essential to fetal sex differentiation, occurs with aging, in the cells of some men. Although the loss of the Y chromosome has previously been associated with higher incidence of cancer, the causes of this association are poorly understood. Men are not only at higher risk of cancer than women; they also face a worse prognosis. In fact, these differences partially account for the lower life expectancy of men. Certain environmental exposures, for example to tobacco or other harmful substances, could affect chromosome function and lead to epigenetic modifications.”
These six Y chromosome genes are involved in cell-cycle regulation. The failure of this can lead to a tumor development. According to the study and its findings, understanding the biological differences between women and men in cancer is very crucial for the development of personalised line of either prevention, or treatment.
Alejandro Caceres, the study lead author said – “In fact, it seems that one of these factors can be found in the Y chromosome, the very essence of maleness.” The research also said that the suppression of the Y chromosome could occur as a result of loss of function in the chromosome. This could explain the previous findings, or as a result of the other mechanisms mediated by the chemical (epigenetic) inactivation of the same regions. - IANS