Life goes by
We have long known that traveling in space carries many health risks – it makes astronauts exposed to higher levels of radiation than all of us, and they have reported health problems such as partial blindness when returning to Earth – but we never really knew if working in space causes astronauts to die prematurely.
"The challenge is always to understand whether astronauts are healthy as if they were working instead but never went into space at all," said researcher death Robert Reynolds told Reuters in an interview published on Wednesday. "To do this, we need to find groups that can be compared to several important factors, but have never been to space."
Fortunately, he found one – but while the comparison with the two groups produced good news for astronauts today, the same thing might not apply to people we send into space in the future.
Space Ballin & # 39;
Astronauts tend to be healthier and more prosperous than Americans in general, with access to better health services. That makes studying the deaths of astronauts difficult – they are too different from most people to draw sound conclusions. But they are not very different from the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Major League Baseball (MLB) players, who also tend to be fit, rich, and cared for by top-of-the-line medical professionals.
In a study published in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine, Reynolds and his colleagues at Mortality Research & Consulting, Inc. explain how they compare data about men playing for the NBA or MLB between 1960 and mid 2018 with US male astronaut data.
This comparison makes them conclude that athletes and astronauts have a lower risk of premature death than the US general population. Astronauts also die of heart disease at a lower rate than athletes and cancer at the same level.
"We cannot confirm from the data we have, but we speculate that cardiovascular fitness in particular is the most important factor in the longevity of astronauts," Reynolds said. Reuters.
Past ≠ Future
This study fills an important gap in our understanding of the impact of space travel on astronauts, but we still have a lot to learn. For example, we know space affects female astronauts differently from their male colleagues, so do they also have lower mortality rates than the general population?
We also only sent people into space for 57 years and fewer than 600 people have traveled. That's not a lot of data to work on, and conclusions about the deaths of astronauts can change because more are available.
As said Francis Cucinotta, a radiation biologist who was not involved in this study Reuters, just because space travel is not related to early deaths to astronauts today does not mean the same thing will apply in the future. The mission of the crew to Mars is at work, for example, and they will expose astronauts to radiation doses of 50 to 100 times higher than missions outside the world before, Cucinotta said.
And radiation is only one factor. There are also possibilities, from Mars dust to psychological stress on long-term space travel that can affect the death of astronauts in the future, so before we take the risk of taking years from anyone's life by sending them into space, we must make sure we do a lot of research is possible on Earth.
READ MORE MORE: Working in Space Doesn't Seem to Shorten the Life of Astronauts[[[[Reuters]