The Helpless Y Chromosome
Dr. Marianne Legato is a Professor of Clinical Medicine at Columbia University, where she also directs and founded the Partnership for Gender-Specific Medicine.
Dr. Legato is the founder and editor of "The Journal of Gender-Specific Medicine and of Gender-Medicine" and a leading advocate for the inclusion of women in clinical trials. She is annually cited in New York Magazine's top doctors issues. She is also the author of Eve's Rib:The New Science of Gender-Specific Medicine and How It Can Save Your Life, The Female Heart, and Why Men Never Remember and Women Never Forget, and, most recently, "Why Men Die First: How to Lengthen Your Lifespan." She edited the medical textbook, "Principles of Gender Specific Medicine," the first compilation for professional audiences of the sex-specific aspects of normal human function and disease.
She lives in New York City.
Question: Is the Y chromosome prone to mutations?
Marianne Legato: The Y chromosome is definitely unique among all the chromosomes. Over most of its extent, it can’t exchange with its partner the X chromosome to repair its deficiencies or mutations in DNA. It’s learned to repair itself in an interesting and unique way. The issues with the Y chromosome are that they are exposed to environmental toxins because they are housed outside the body in the scrotal sack. Many millions are produced every day and, therefore, mutations are far more frequent in the Y chromosome than in the X or indeed in any of the other chromosomes. So the male drives evolutionary development because of this extraordinary proliferation of mutations that are characteristic of sperm and the Y chromosome.
The masculine chromosome is unique in its inability to repair itself, making it exceptionally prone to mutation and pollution.
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