Just like most things that we encounter, the human body is also susceptible to wear and tear. Over time, people will start complaining about aches and pains — and wrinkles. But it’s not just what we feel in our knees when we try going for a run (at the same speed and distance that we used to) or what we see in the mirror that’s degenerating. Our cells, too, get older, weaker, and eventually, die — one of those is the Y chromosome or the “male” chromosome. And when men start losing their male chromosome, they become more vulnerable to illness and disease.
Find out what happens when men lose their Y chromosome.
What am I at risk for if I’m losing my Y chromosome?
According to Kenneth Walsh, a researcher from the University of Virginia School of Medicine, about 40% of men who are in their 70s lose their male chromosome. Even though men at this life stage may have had decades to prove their “manliness,” losing their Y chromosome can still be a cause for concern.
In the university’s study, Kenneth Walsh and his team discovered that men who lose their male chromosome are more at risk for heart failure. Additionally, they hypothesized that, since women — on average — already live 5 years longer than men, 4 of those 5 years were possibly because of heart problems caused by Y chromosome loss. Not only that, men who lose their male chromosome are also more at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
How is Y chromosome loss prevented?
It seems as though aging is the main culprit as to why older men lose their male chromosome. Walsh concludes, “The DNA of all our cells inevitably accumulate mutations as we age. This includes the loss of the entire Y chromosome within a subset of cells within men. Understanding that the body is a mosaic of acquired mutations provides clues about age-related diseases and the aging process itself.” Smokers, however, are said to be more likely to lose their Y chromosome — compared to non-smokers.
Researchers have not yet found — or published a statement — how male chromosome loss can be prevented.
As for determining which men are dealing with Y chromosome loss, Lars Forsberg — a researcher from Uppsala University — developed a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test that can detect male chromosome loss. However, it’s currently only available for lab research and use.
What’s the treatment for Y chromosome loss?
Scientists haven’t found a highly effective — and nearly indisputable — treatment for male chromosome loss. But they do suggest an FDA-approved drug called Pirfenidone. It’s worth noting, however, that the medication is one of the treatments for lung scarring — as it’s one of the effects of Y chromosome loss, and that it’s possibly one of the reasons why some men die earlier than expected.
Older people may have a reputation for being cranky a lot, but it’s only because they deal with several things to complain about. Male chromosome loss is yet another discovery that some older men apparently suffer from. Until researchers find ways to prevent and treat this, we may just have to accept that we’re not “superhumans.” Therefore, our bodies will experience countless aches and pains throughout our lives — even more so once we age.
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