Never miss a story

Get subscribed to our newsletter


×
NASA astronauts Scott Kelly, right, and Tim Kopra shake hands as Kelly turns over command of the International Space Station to Kopra, Feb. 29, 2016. VOA

Although space travel exposes astronauts to forms of radiation that are uncommon on Earth, and that are linked to cancers and heart problems, a U.S. study suggests this doesn’t significantly shorten their lives.

Researchers compared nearly 60 years of data on U.S. male astronauts and a group of men who are similarly extra-fit, affluent and receive elite health care: pro athletes. They found that neither group has higher rates than the other of death overall or of early deaths. Both groups do tend to outlast the rest of us, however.


Astronauts are generally well-educated, more affluent and more physically fit than the typical American, and some previous research has linked this career to a lower risk of premature death, the study team notes in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

But much of the previous research on mortality rates in astronauts hasn’t accounted for the mental and physical demands of this career, or the so-called “healthy worker effect” that leads people with employment of any kind to typically have fewer medical issues than individuals who are unable to work, said study co-author Robert Reynolds of Mortality Research & Consulting Inc. in City of Industry, Calif.


The Apollo 8 crew lifts off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Dec. 21, 1968. VOA

Comparable group needed

“The challenge has always been to understand if astronauts are as healthy as they would be had they been otherwise comparably employed but had never gone to space at all,” Reynolds said by email. “To do this, we needed to find a group that is comparable on several important factors, but has never been to space.”

The researchers compared mortality rates for male U.S. astronauts to those of professional athletes from Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association between 1960 and mid-2018.

Both athletes and astronauts had a lower risk of premature death than the general population, the study found. And there was no meaningful mortality difference between NBA and MLB players.

Astronauts were more likely to die of accidents and other external causes, and less likely to die from heart disease and all other natural causes, the study also found.

“We cannot be sure from the data we have, but we speculate that cardiovascular fitness in particular is the most important factor in astronaut longevity,” Reynolds said.


NASA astronauts Reid Wiseman, right, and Barry Wilmore work inside the International Space Station on October 1, 2014. The results suggest that radiation exposure in space. VOA

The results suggest that radiation exposure in space might not lead to a premature death for astronauts due to heart problems or certain cancers, the study authors conclude. In fact, astronauts had a lower rate of death from heart disease than the NBA and MLB players, and had cancer mortality similar to the athletes’ rates.

The study wasn’t designed to prove whether or how space travel may directly impact human health. It also didn’t examine mortality among female astronauts or athletes.

Lower radiation exposure

Radiation exposure may also have been much lower during early missions to the moon and not reflect what would happen with the current generation of astronauts, said Francis Cucinotta, a researcher at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, who wasn’t involved in the study.


From left: CSA astronaut David Saint Jacques, Russian cosmonaut Оleg Kononenko‎ and U.S. astronaut Anne McClain pose in a mock-up of a Soyuz space craft at Russian Space Training Center in Star City, Russia. VOA

“The missions in the past were low dose, while in the future the dose would be 50 to 100 times higher for a Mars mission,” Cucinotta said by email.

Astronauts have typically never smoked, leading to a lower risk of heart disease than the general population, Cucinotta added.

Diet and exercise also set astronauts and professional athletes apart from the rest of the population, said Michael Delp, a researcher at Florida State University in Tallahassee who wasn’t involved in the study.

Also Read: Elon Musk-Owned SpaceX Successfully Deploys US GPS Satellite Into Orbit

“When physical fitness is a requisite part of a job, such as with astronauts and professional athletes, this is a major determinant of the healthy worker effect,” Delp said by email.

Even for the rest of us, “remaining or becoming physically active and maintaining a well-balanced diet greatly improves overall health and well-being, and can enhance successful aging,” Delp said. (VOA)


Popular

Unsplash

Initially, the firm announced a feature called Audio Recording in Latin America as a way to make people using Uber there feel more safe.

Ride-hailing major Uber has introduced a new in-app safety feature that will allow drivers as well as riders to record audio during trips.

Initially, the firm announced a feature called Audio Recording in Latin America as a way to make people using Uber there feel more safe. The feature is now available in more than a dozen countries throughout Latin America, including Brazil and Mexico.

"To help protect privacy, the audio file is encrypted and stored on the rider and driver's devices and by default no one can listen to the audio, including Uber. If either user submits a safety report to Uber, they can attach the audio file to their report," the company said in a statement.

Follow NewsGram on Instagram to keep yourself updated.

Once riders and drivers enable this feature, they can choose to record audio by tapping the shield icon on the map screen and selecting "Record Audio".

Riders and drivers can choose to record individual trips, and drivers will also have the option to leave the feature on while they are online.

Throughout Latin America this feature has been a popular way to promote safe, comfortable interactions while on a trip. For instance, nearly 70 per cent of riders and drivers surveyed in Rio de Janeiro told the brand this feature helped them feel safer when using Uber.

In addition, the company has expanded the capabilities of our RideCheck technology to detect when a trip takes an unexpected route or when a trip ends unexpectedly before the rider's final destination.

Keep Reading Show less
Unsplash

The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) be repealed in Nagaland

Special Powers For The Armed Forces Act Of 1958 is an act to allow personnel of the armed forces in the states of *[Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Tripura] to be granted certain special powers in troubled regions.

In protest, Nagaland has decided to put the Hornbill Festival on hold. Furthermore, the SIT investigating the event has been given a month to finish its inquiry.

Keep Reading Show less
Unsplash

Lee, the de facto leader of the country's biggest conglomerate, Samsung Group, has hinted at making a sizable change to the company to "create a better Samsung."

Samsung Electronics on Tuesday replaced all three CEOs in a surprise move that, the company said, was intended to enhance competitiveness and promote future growth.

Han Jong-hee was promoted to vice chairman and CEO and will be in charge of the newly created SET division, which merged the consumer electronics and IT and mobile communications divisions, previously led by Kim Hyun-suk and Koh Dong-jin, respectively.

Keep reading... Show less