Future cancer screening programmes could benefit from a new scientific discovery.
Researchers at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), the University of Oxford and Edinburgh University found that a faulty region of the X chromosome can lead to lower levels of SHROOM2 - a gene linked to bowel cancer.
The disease is the third most common form of the illness in the UK and is more prevalent among men. Doctors now believe that this may be because males lack a second X chromosome to override the malfunctioning version of the gene.
Co-lead researcher professor Richard Houlston from ICR said: "To our knowledge, this is the first time that anyone has shown that one of the sex chromosomes is involved in the development of a cancer that can afflict both sexes."
He explained that doctors may be able to use this knowledge to more accurately identify who will be at risk of bowel cancer in the future.