New research shows that astronauts do as much bone damage in 6 months in space as they do in 20 years on Earth
According to recent studies, astronauts on 6-month missions lost bone mass comparable to that lost over two decades on Earth. Spaceflight also stresses the cardiovascular system and exposes astronauts to more radiation.
Academic studies on astronauts have shown how severely space travel affects the human bones. A year after landing on Earth, just approximately half of the lost bone mass had been rebuilt, raising questions about upcoming trips to Mars and the Moon.
A longer space mission increases bone loss and reduces recovery chances. The absence of gravity in space, where weight-bearing bones on Earth are typically free from weight pressure, causes bone loss.
The study involved 17 astronauts who had spent the last 7 years in space, with an average age of 47 and a gender breakdown of 14 men and 3 women. The crew was made up of representatives from the Canadian, European, American, and Japanese space agencies as well as NASA. A year after landing on Earth, they collaborated with a research team lead by Professor Lee Gabel from the University of Calgary.
After spending between four and seven months in space, nine crew members had an irreversible reduction of bone mineral density, according to Sky News.
Professor Gabel comments on the study, which was published in the journal “Scientific Reports,” that astronauts “experienced significant bone loss during 6-month spaceflights, a loss that would be expected in an elderly person over 2 decades on Earth, and regained only half of that loss after a year on Earth.”