Traveling to Mars could give you gut cancer, and that’s not good

04 Octobre, 2018, 10:42 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • US space agency said it plans to send astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972

While Earth is regularly bombarded with it, humans are protected by the magnetosphere and, therefore, not evolved to take huge doses in deep space.

Datta added that a mission to Mars would be much longer than a trip to the moon, which takes about three days. Travelling to long distances in the space could destroy the guts of astronauts, as per a major new study by NASA-funded.

"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", said Kamal Datta, head of Georgetown's NASA Specialized Center of Research, in a press release.

"Heavy ions such as iron and silicon are damaging due to their greater mass compared to no-mass photons such as X-rays and gamma rays prevalent on Earth", Datta said. The control group and the mice only exposed to gamma rays didn't show the same symptoms. Shielding technology is leveling up, but no superhero space suits that would be able to block heavy ions and other potentially cancerous forms of radiation have appeared yet, and neither have any medicines that could possibly give the human body immunity.

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There was also evidence that iron radiation induced DNA damage and increased the number of "senescent" cells that had stopped dividing.

"This greatly affected migration of cells that are needed to replace the intestinal lining which slowed down GI functioning". Earth's magnetic field does a good job of protecting us against the bombardment of radiation from space, but travelers headed to Mars or beyond wouldn't be so fortunate. Ionized iron and silicon were identified as being especially damaging, and according to Kamal Datta, the study's senior investigator, there's not much we can do about them: "With the current shielding technology, it is hard to protect astronauts from the adverse effects of heavy ion radiation". It becomes more hard for new intestinal cells to migrate and replace old cells, driving the cancer risk. Any disturbance occurred in this replacement mechanism leads to a malfunctioning of physiologic processes like nutrient absorption and begins with pathologic process like; cancer; as stated by the director of NASA; Albert Fornace Jr. The mice received a very low dose over the equivalent of a months-long stay in deep space.

The findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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