TIME Cancer

Why Smoking Causes Cancer In More Men Than Women

170425889
Getty Images/OJO Images RF— Adam Gault Stubbed out cigarette in ashtray.

Yet another motivation for men to quit smoking

Men who smoke may be at greater risk for lung cancer than their female counterparts, according to a new study in the journal Science.

That might be because smoking reduces the number of Y chromosomes in blood cells. Previous research has shown that when blood cells lose Y chromosomes, which are only present in men, cancer is more likely to develop. While the precise relationship between Y chromosomes and cancer remains unclear, Y chromosomes are thought to play a role in tumor containment.

The study, led by a team at the Uppsala University in Sweden, examined data on several factors that might have led to a loss of Y chromosomes, including age, exercise, diabetes, cholesterol, education and alcohol. Smoking and age were the only factors associated with loss of Y chromosomes in the more than 6,000 men evaluated.

The study also provides some hope for men who want to quit smoking. Y chromosomes return to the blood cells of men who stop the habit, the study found.

“These results indicate that smoking can cause loss of the Y chromosome and that this process might be reversible,” said lead study author Lars Forsberg in a press release. “This discovery could be very persuasive for motivating smokers to quit.”

The American Cancer Society expects lung cancer to kill nearly 160,000 people in the United States in 2014, more than any other cancer.

Tap to read full story

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com


YOU BROKE TIME.COM!

Dear TIME Reader,

As a regular visitor to TIME.com, we are sure you enjoy all the great journalism created by our editors and reporters. Great journalism has great value, and it costs money to make it. One of the main ways we cover our costs is through advertising.

The use of software that blocks ads limits our ability to provide you with the journalism you enjoy. Consider turning your Ad Blocker off so that we can continue to provide the world class journalism you have become accustomed to.

The TIME Team