Florida State University Dean of the College of Human Sciences Michael Delp has detailed a sad reality affecting the Apollo astronauts: cardiovascular health issues caused by their exposure to space radiation. According to the study recently published in Scientific Reports, the astronauts who travelled into space as part of the lunar missions are largely suffering cardiovascular effects as a result, with 43-percent of the deceased individuals having died for reasons related to cardiovascular issues.
To get an idea about the potential health effects of deep space radiation, researchers exposed lab mice to similar radiation levels and found that half a year later (which is equal to 20 human years), they had arterial issues that would eventually lead to atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (in humans, that is). This result is largely reflected in the fate of several now-deceased Apollo astronauts.
A total of 24 astronauts were sent into deep space during the Apollo missions. Of those astronauts, seven of them were looked into as part of this study, with an eighth dying after the researchers had already gathered their data. Of those individuals, more than forty-percent died as a result of some type of cardiovascular problem.
NASA’s Space Biology Program and the National Space and Biomedical Research Institute both funded this study, and the data is no doubt necessary as nations around the globe work on sending humans to Mars. NASA has increasingly devoted time toward studying the effects of space on humans, and on developing technologies that help address those risks. Despite these efforts, there’s a long way to go before we can safely send humans into the far reaches of space.
SOURCE: Florida State University