Space is a harsh environment. There’s no air, little gravity (microgravity does not count). In addition, the space is very cold, but still lurks an invisible danger in the form of solar radiation. As you know, radiation exposure can cause the development of a number of serious diseases including cancer It is believed that solar radiation in this plan is a huge danger for astronauts and is a big problem for long-distance space travel. But all is not so simple.
What is the danger of cosmic radiation
Space travel machine body exposure to higher doses of ionizing radiation than those normally available on Earth, as the atmosphere of the planet prevents most of these dangerous particles. In space, as you know, no such protection and it is believed that at high doses of cosmic radiation can cause heart disease, broncho-pulmonary system and lead to the already mentioned problems with the immune system and increased risk of developing cancer.
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Previous studies found a correlation between space travel and an increased risk of death from cancer or cardiovascular disease. But since relatively few people at that time traveled in space, these studies may have been not too revealing in order to correctly interpret that connection.
A recent study based on information obtained from 418 space travelers, including astronaut 301 NASAthat traveled to space at least once since 1959, and 117 of the Russian and Soviet cosmonauts, at least once flown in space since 1961. All these participants were followed on average for about 25 years.
During this time, unfortunately, the 89 participants in the experiment died. Among the 53 deaths of NASA astronauts, 30% died of cancer and 15% from heart disease, at that time, among the 36 of our fellow citizens 50% died from heart disease and 28% from cancer. The researchers used a statistical method to determine whether death from cancer and heart disease a common cause. In this case cosmic radiation. But their results did not indicate that the reason for that was precisely cosmic radiation.
So harmful cosmic radiation?
The results of a new study bring us some good news: cosmic radiation, it seems, does not increase the risk of death of the astronauts from cancer or heart disease, at least not in the doses they received during their missions.
“If the ionizing radiation and causes an increased risk of death due to cancer and cardiovascular disease, this effect is not significant,” the authors write in their study published in the journal Scientific Reports.
However, a longer mission (such as mission to Mars) it will put astronauts far greater radiation exposure that may carry a risk for human health.
“It is important to note that future missions for the study of deep space are likely to bear a much greater risk because of increased dose of cosmic radiation. Our future research aims to explore the potential harm of cosmic radiation for humans in a more long-term space expeditions.”