Space Travel's Effects On Astronauts' Hearts Are Alarming
A team of space radiation researchers has found that space travel deteriorates human health at an alarming rate. According to Fox News, of the 24 Apollo astronauts who flew into deep space, eight have died from cardiovascular disease.
The findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports. The group of astronauts consisted of the only humans to ever leave planet Earth's magnetic field. As such, they were not protected by the planet's natural barrier that blocks against deadly space radiation.
"This is actually quite important to investigate and understand now. The International Space Station is scheduled to be shut down in 2024, and nations from Japan, to Russia, to China, to the United States are already planning on returning to the moon, visiting mars and forging elsewhere into deep space within the next 10 years," Delp told Popular Mechanics. "This finding raises a whole host of questions about deep space travel and its long-term cardiovascular effects."
Researchers looked at astronauts who never flew out to space, who went to space but stayed in low-Earth orbit, and the Apollo astronauts, who flew furthest away from Earth than any humans.
"We know very little about the effects of deep space radiation on human health, particularly on the cardiovascular system," said Delp. "This gives us the first glimpse into its adverse effects on humans."
Delp and his colleagues are unsure how space radiation affects the astronauts' health decades after their missions. However, Delp is consistent about the possibility of inflation existing in the research's findings.
"Certainly, that small sample size is something to keep in mind," said Delp. "But in almost all space studies with humans you're dealing with a small number of individuals."
All previous studied have shown that there's no long-term negative cardiovascular effects from deep space flight. Understanding if [long-term heart health] is really a concern we need to worry about is going to require a lot more research and studies, and especially if we want to develop countermeasures for the next generation of space explorers."