(ORDO NEWS) — Being in space has a detrimental effect on the cells of the body, and some changes can persist for a lifetime. The article details the research findings that support these scientists’ findings. The main one is that due to being in space, cells age faster than usual.
A person is not adapted to life in a tin can, racing in zero gravity at a speed of 30 thousand kilometers per hour. However, these are the conditions astronauts have to endure on the ISS.
Weightlessness overloads the body, and the leaked radiation can at some point cause cancer and destroy the cells of the nervous system.
Man is used to gravity. Without it, the muscles begin to atrophy, the bones begin to become fragile. In space, a person loses about 1% of bone mass every month – this is comparable to the changes in the spine of an elderly person in a year.
Blood and fluids in the body do not circulate normally. Blood rushes from the legs to the upper part of the body, the face swells. Due to intracranial pressure, vision decreases. Some astronauts suffer from vision problems after returning to Earth.
The risk of blood clots increases. A couple of years ago, an astronaut developed a blood clot in a neck vessel. Fortunately, there were blood thinners at the station.
The impact of space on astronauts is now being studied extensively. Various space organizations are planning to send a man to the moon and even to Mars again.
The scientific journal Cell recently published a series of studies on this topic.
One study analyzed blood and cell samples from 59 astronauts. It turned out that the “energy center of cells”, mitochondria, gets into space under strong overload. Disruption of mitochondrial activity affects the entire body.
“We have found a mechanism that explains the various changes in the body. Everything goes wrong, and the reason is in the activity of mitochondria, ”- said the head of the study Afshin Beheshti in a press release from NASA.
Human genes also start to work differently, and DNA damage has also been noted in astronauts.
The environment causes so-called epigenetic changes, that is, some genes begin to work more actively, and some – worse. It also affects the immune system and muscle function.
Liver function and metabolism also suffer. The volume of so-called “bad cholesterol”, low-density lipoproteins, increases, while the volume of “good cholesterol,” high-density lipoproteins, decreases.
An especially interesting observation was made: the end sections of chromosomes in space are lengthened, although it was previously thought that they were shortened. This observation was made earlier in a NASA study when Scott Kelly’s body was compared to that of his twin brother. Kelly spent almost a year on the ISS. A twin brother was waiting for him on his homeland.
Telomeres protect chromosomes when cells divide. However, as a person grows older, telomeres contract, and when the protective membrane becomes thinner, the cells die. So the longer the telomeres, the better.
Telomere lengthening in space, however, is not good news. This process causes oxidative stress in humans, and upon their return to Earth, astronauts’ telomeres contract even more.
These changes are not life-threatening, but they show that in space, the human body experiences very strong overloads, and cells age faster than usual. And some changes can last a lifetime.
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