PTI Researchers have identified a key biological mechanism that puts the male species at higher risk of cancer than women, an advance that may lead to more personalized lines of treatment and prevention for each gender. According to the study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, the higher risk of cancer seen could be due to the loss of function in certain genes of the sex-determining Y chromosome, which is present only in men.

Using data from 9,000 individuals, the researchers, including those from the University of Adelaide in Australia, studied the function of genes present in the Y-chromosome in patients with various types of cancer. According to the researchers, the Y chromosome genes play a role in the regulation of cell replication, the failure of which can lead to tumor development. Gonzalez said men, apart from facing a higher risk of cancer, also face a worse prognosis compared to women.

The researchers believe that identifying the factors which make men more vulnerable to cancer has the potential to mitigate risk in this population. Although men may be more exposed to carcinogens due to the type of work they do and at larger risk because they are less likely to consult a doctor, our study has shown that there are also biological factors that increase cancer risk among men,” Caceres said.

“Certain environmental exposures, for example to tobacco or other harmful substances, could affect chromosome function and lead to epigenetic modifications. Our findings open the door for the development of targeted detection methods and specific therapies for men with cancer,” Gonzalez said.