Sci-tech

Long-distance Space Travel Boosts Risk of Leukemia

Long-distance Space Travel Boosts Risk of Leukemia

"Our results are troubling because they show radiation exposure could potentially increase the risk of leukaemia in two ways", the report quotes Christopher Porada, associate professor at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in the US.

By having a three year and 140 million mile journey, a new research has recently found that for those who wanted to travel through space and reach the red planet will be facing a heightened risk of developing leukemia since they will be exposed to unsafe levels of radiation.

A new study over travelling to Mars has claimed that humans going to space have higher leukaemia risk as their bodies encounter with unsafe radiations during the deep space travel.

For the time in almost six and a half years, the US Congress has passed a bill to fund the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), allocating $19.5 billion to the agency for research, exploration and space operations. The researchers examine the radiation impact on human hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), which are not fully developed cells that could evolve into all types of blood cells. Additionally, scientists have explained that HSCs were the ones responsible for the production of blood cells that circulate through the body and transport oxygen, fight infections and eliminate any malignancies. Researchers found that the human cells were more likely to develop cancer when exposed to the radiation. The trip to Mars is 120-million-mile-long and a roundtrip would take around 36 months.

The participants were all between 30 and 55 years old, among the typical ages for being an astronaut.


"Radiation exposure at these levels was highly deleterious to HSC function, reducing their ability to produce nearly all types of blood cells, often by 60-80%", said lead author Christopher Porada. This means that astronauts will have to cope with a weakened immune system and a high risk of developing blood cancer and infections during prolonged journeys.

In ongoing studies investigating the effects of spaceflight on the human body, researchers sound the alarm on intense radiation and the potential threat of leukemia in astronauts.

While doses of killer electrons also created genetic damage to the cells, a known risk factor of cancer. The team describe this as the first demonstration that deep space radiation may increase the leukemia risk in humans.

The space agency is yet to release official results from its unprecedented Twin Study, but early findings on twin brothers Scott and Mark Kelly already indicated that space travel dramatically changes human biology, such as gene expression. Porada also said that this may lessen the ability of the astronaut's immune system to get rid of malignant cells that arise because of radiation-induced mutations.


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