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06-2022

Astronauts may suffer permanent loss of bone density after returning to Earth, study suggests

While bone loss is a natural phenomenon as the human body ages, astronauts in long-duration flights suffer a permanent loss of bone density, a study has found.

The findings, published in the journal Scientific Reports, showed that some astronauts who flew on shorter missions of less than six months experienced improved lower body bone strength and density than those who flew longer.

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This loss occurs because bones that normally carry weight on Earth like your feet don’t have to carry weight in microgravity — you just float, said the team from the University of Calgary in Canada.

They followed 17 astronauts before and after spaceflight from 2015 to understand whether bone heals after ‘long-duration’ spaceflight.

The researchers scanned the wrists and ankles of the astronauts before they went into space, before returning to Earth, and again six and 12 months after their return.

“We found that weight-bearing bones are only partially recovered in most astronauts a year after spaceflight. This suggests that permanent bone loss due to spaceflight is one of the most common causes of age-related bone loss on Earth. decade,” said the lead author. Doctor. Leigh Gabel, assistant professor in kinesiology at the university.

“We have seen astronauts who had difficulty walking due to weakness and loss of balance after returning from spacecraft, happily rode on their bikes to the Johnson Space Center campus to meet us for a study trip There are a lot of reactions between them. Astronauts when they return to Earth,” said Dr. McCaig, director of the McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health. Steven Boyd said.

According to Dr. Robert Thirsk, former chancellor and astronaut at the University of Calgary, “just as a body must adapt to a spacecraft at the beginning of a mission, it must return to Earth’s gravitational field at the end”.

“Fatigue, dizziness, and imbalance were immediate challenges for me upon my return. Bones and muscles take the longest to recover after spaceflight. But within a day of landing, I felt comfortable again as an Earthling. felt it.”

As future space missions explore travel to more distant locations, the next iteration of the study will explore the effects of even longer journeys to support astronauts, who may one day travel beyond the International Space Station. can.

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