Space travel threatens the health of astronauts

Space travel threatens the health of astronauts

Traveling in space is not trivial. Researchers remind us of this today. They were interested in the effect this can have on the blood of astronauts. And confirm the heavy reality of the space anemia syndrome.

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[EN VIDÉO] The flow of red blood cells in real time
The photo-acoustic flowoxigraphy technique makes it possible to observe red blood cells moving in a blood capillary in real time. It is then possible to determine the quantity of oxygen present in each globule and in a capillary.

It is said that travel shapes youth. From now on, we can add that travel (in space) destroys our red blood cells. In an impressive proportion. It is even a primary characteristic, according to some University of Ottawa researchers (Canada). A conclusion they draw from a six-month work carried out over 14 astronauts on mission aboard the international space station (ISS) and the composition of their blood.

Remember that on Earth, our body creates and destroys, every second, no less than 2 million red blood cells. During the time they spend in space, the bodies of both men and women destroy 54% more red blood cells. That’s just over 3 million per second. What to explain the syndrome ofspace anemia known for a long time.

A long term phenomenon

Although they did not measure it, the researchers imagine that astronauts also generate more Red cells replacement than on Earth. Otherwise, they risk severe anemia and serious health problems. They also note that the red blood cell deficiency has little impact as long as the body is in weightlessness. But that the effects of anemia tend to catch up with astronauts once the gravity from Earth — or another planet — is being felt again.

This work also shows that red blood cell levels generally return to normal 3 or 4 months after returning to Earth. Even if a year later, astronauts continue to destroy more than before their stay in space. Up to 30% more, all the same. Something to suggest structural changes. And ask several questions – what impact on the diet of astronauts or even, how long can the body keep up at this rate, for example – with a view to long missions to Mars especially.

This work could also shed light on the case of these patients who become anemic after a long period of bed rest. Without the doctors understanding the mechanism. A mechanism that could be similar to that which leads to space anemia.

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