Osteoporosis and Space Travel

Hugh

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Interesting articles in the press recently about astronauts losing bone density in space and struggling to recover what they've lost, in some cases even after a year on earth. This could have major implications for long space journeys.

Here's the Guardian:

Astronauts lose decades’ worth of bone mass in space that many do not recover even after a year back on Earth, researchers have found, warning that it could be a “big concern” for future missions to Mars.
Previous research has shown astronauts lose between 1% and 2% of bone density for every month spent in space, as the lack of gravity takes pressure off their legs when it comes to standing and walking.
To find out how astronauts recover once their feet are back on the ground, a new study scanned the wrists and ankles of 17 astronauts before, during and after a stay on the International Space Station (ISS).
The bone density lost by astronauts was equivalent to how much they would shed in several decades if they were back on Earth, said study co-author Dr Steven Boyd, of Canada’s University of Calgary and director of the McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health.
The researchers found that the shinbone density of nine of the astronauts had not fully recovered after a year on Earth – and they were still lacking about a decade’s worth of bone mass.
The astronauts who went on the longest missions, which ranged from four to seven months on the ISS, were the slowest to recover. “The longer you spend in space, the more bone you lose,” Boyd said.


And here's the link to the full article:
 

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