Smoke favors the loss of the Y chromosome in the nucleated blood cells, namely in the white blood cells (red blood cells are by their nature anucleate).
Along with the chromosome two genes are also lost that counteract the development of non-haematological cancers.
Thus it is not just by chance that smoking constitutes a major risk factor for cancer in males.
Researchers suggest that immune cells in the blood that have lost the Y chromosome have a reduced ability to fight cancer cells. This reduced ability seems particularly connected to the loss of two tumor suppressor genes, ZFY and UTY.
The discovery is accredited to an international group of researchers led by Lars A. Forsberg from the Uppsala University, who signed an article published in “Science”.