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DNA differences beween men and women may explain why cancer risk is higher in males, according to a new study.
In findings published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers have reported that loss of function in certain genes of the sex-determining Y chromosome, which is present only in men, may cause them to have higher cancers risk.
The researchers studied Y-chromosome gene function in patients with various types of cancer and found that cancer risk increases with loss of function of six key Y-chromosome genes in various types of cells.
“Recent studies have shown that complete loss of the Y chromosome, which is essential to foetal sex differentiation, occurs, with aging, in the cells of some men,” said study author Juan Ramon Gonzalez from Barcelona Institute for Global Health in Spain.
“Although the loss of the Y chromosome has previously been associated with higher incidence of cancer, the causes of this association are poorly understood,” Gonzalez added.
These six Y-chromosome genes are involved in cell-cycle regulation, the failure of which can lead to tumour development.
According to the study, understanding the biological differences between men and women in cancer is crucial for the development of personalised lines of treatment and prevention.
“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,” Gonzalez added.
Researchers said although men may be more exposed to carcinogens due to the type of work they do and at higher risk because they are less likely to consult a doctor, the study has shown there are also biological factors that increase cancer risk among men.
“In fact, it seems that one of these factors can be found in the Y chromosome, the very essence of maleness,” said lead author Alejandro Caceres. (IANS)