BEACON TRANSCRIPT – A group of researchers may have just found the reason why men die earlier than women. Scientists believe that the aging-related loss of the Y chromosome may provide the answer.
The Y chromosome can be found in every cell of the male body and it is responsible for making men male. Yet, in some people the chromosome vanishes from their blood cells as they age.
This particular group has a higher risk of dying young and being diagnosed with various types of cancers, a previous study had shown. But the recent research shows that the loss of the Y chromosome may up the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease too.
Scientists at the Sweden-based Uppsala University analyzed over 3,200 men with ages ranging from 37 to 96. The study revealed that one in five men may have the missing chromosome issue as he gets older.
Furthermore, the older the men were the more frequent the problem was, which may explain the late onset of Alzheimer’s. The analysis also revealed that men with the Y chromosome missing from their white blood cells were three times more likely to develop the brain disease.
White blood cells need the chromosome to trigger a proper immune response when the body is threatened. So if the cells are partially disabled, the body can develop a wide range of diseases from cancer to Alzheimer’s and so on.
Researchers concluded that the loss of Y chromosome makes the cells partially lose their immune function. The team believes that women tend to outlive men because they are not equipped with a Y chromosome so they don’t have to worry about their immune system getting compromised as they age.
If the theory is correct, simple blood tests may tell men if they are at risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other life-threatening conditions. So, they could get medical assistance sooner and be tracked for memory loss and cancer.
Study authors strongly believe that Y chromosome testing could help men live longer and even wipe out the difference in life expectancy between men and women. As of now, a 65-year old male has a life expectancy of 18.8 years, while a woman of the same age is expected to live 22.1 more years.
Past studies had suggested that women outlive men because their male counterparts have a riskier behavior or tend to work themselves into the grave. Other studies had suggested that hormones may play a huge role.
Nevertheless, the life expectancy gap has been shrinking in recent years as more and more women tend to pursue stressful careers and drink and smoke like men do.
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