Outer space is a particularly uncivil environment, leaving astronauts exposed to high levels of radioactivity. And radiation exposure can increase heart disease, cancer and rates in earthbound humans.
A new research came up with some good news! Space radiation doesn’t look to enhance astronauts’ risk of death from heart disease or cancer, at least not at the treatments they experienced during historical missions. Still, Long missions — for example, the mission to Mars — will likely come with much greater radiation dosages that could cause larger health risks, the authors said.
And at high doses, that radiation has been tied not just to heart disease and cancer, but to a host of other health problems as well.
Early researches haven’t found a link between space trip and an increased risk of death from heart disease or cancer; but since relatively some people have travelled to space, these studies may have been extremely small to detect such a link, the authors said.
The new study analysed information from 418 space explorers, including 301 NASA astronauts who already had travelled to space at least one time since 1959, and 117 Soviet cosmonauts or Russians who had travelled to space minimum one time since 1961. These participants were followed for about 25 years, on average.
At that time, approximately 89 members died. Among the 53 NASA astronauts, 30% died because of cancer and 15% died cause of heart disease; while among the Soviet cosmonauts or 36 Russian who died, 50% died from heart disease and 28% from cancer.
The scientists used a special statistical procedure to discover whether deaths from heart disease and cancer likely had a common cause — in this case, the common cause would be space radiation. But their results did not lead to a general cause of death.
“If ionizing radiation is affecting the risk of death due to cardiovascular and cancer disease, the effect is not dramatic,” the authors said in their research.
Still, the study cannot conclude whether longer missions would cause different health risks. It is really important to note that future space missions for deep exploration will likely offer greater doses of space radiation, as compare to any historical dose.