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The very bad news about what space travel can do to your gut

Deep-Space Radiation Could Damage Astronauts’ Guts By Samantha Mathewson, Space.com Contributor | October 4, 2018 Deep-space missions, to Mars and beyond, could spell trouble for astronauts, according to new research showing that cosmic radiation can damage the digestive tract, stomach and colon.

Spending weeks or months in space can lead to muscle loss, deterioration in cognitive ability and bone formation, and even vision problems for astronauts. As we prepare to send astronauts deeper into space, researchers are investigating how these even-longer journeys will affect the human body.

“While short trips, like the times astronauts traveled to the moon, may not expose them to this level of damage, the real concern is lasting injury from a long trip, such as a Mars [mission] or other deep-space missions, which would be much longer,” Kamal Datta, the study’s lead investigator and project leader of the NASA Specialized Center of Research (NSCOR) at Georgetown University Medical Center, said in a statement. [What Does Space Travel Do to Your Gut Microbes? (Video)]

To simulate how galactic cosmic radiation in deep space will affect future astronauts, researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center studied radiation’s impact on the small intestine of mice. Their findings suggest that exposure to a low dose of iron radiation could cause serious gastrointestinal (GI) damage, as well as tumor growth in the stomach and colon, according to the statement………

The radiation appeared to cause permanent damage, according to the study. Also, the researchers suggested that exposure to heavy ions may cause similar damage responses in other organs.

“With the current shielding technology, it is difficult to protect astronauts from the adverse effects of heavy-ion radiation,” Datta said. “Although there may be a way to use medicines to counter these effects, no such agent has been developed yet.”……

The findings were published Monday (Oct. 1) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Follow Samantha Mathewson @Sam_Ashley13. Follow us @SpacedotcomFacebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com.  https://www.space.com/42018-deep-space-travel-damage-astronauts-gut.html

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October 8, 2018 - Posted by | radiation

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